The L.A. County Coroner’s Office has determined that Vaughn York, one of two men found dead on May 5 in an apartment on Hacienda Place, died from a combination of cocaine, fentanyl and ethanol, which is a term used to describe alcohol.
York, 53, was an African-American man known for his work as a chef. At the time of his death he was working for NBC Universal.
York was found dead in the bedroom of an apartment occupied by a friend of his who also worked in the food business. The other person found dead in the room was Devon Jacob Lopez Bergman, 21. The Coroner’s Office determined that Bergman’s death was a result of a combination of cocaine, MDMA (also known as Ecstasy) and fentanyl.
Fentanyl is a highly dangerous synthetic opioid that is 80 to 100 times stronger than morphine. It has been turning up more often of late in illegal recreational drugs.
“This synthetic fentanyl is sold illegally as a powder, dropped onto blotter paper, put in eye droppers and nasal sprays, or made into pills that look like other prescription opioids,” says the National Institute on Drug Abuse. “Some drug dealers are mixing fentanyl with other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine, and MDMA. This is because it takes very little to produce a high with fentanyl, making it a cheaper option. It has been turning up more often.”
An overdose of fentanyl can bring death to a user in a matter of minutes.
The West Hollywood City Council in May voted to allocate $15,000 to APLA Health and $5,000 to the LA LGBT Center to provide fentanyl testing strips to drug users. The $15,000 allocated to APLA’s Health and Wellness program also is intended to support the development of a public education campaign targeting the West Hollywood community and members of the LGBT community that were to visit West Hollywood during the June LA Pride event, providing information on the risks of the use of fentanyl and other party drugs such as Methamphetamine.
The testing strips can be used to test a drug that one plans to use to make sure it isn’t laced with fentanyl.
City Councilmember John Duran, a member of the recovery community, has spoken out about the dangers of fentanyl. However, Duran’s post on his Facebook page in May about the deaths of York and Bergman got an angry reaction from the young man’s mother, who accused him of exploiting her son’s death to promote himself. In his post, Duran described the men, whose identities had not then been released, as possibly gay men who were partying with drugs on Cinco de Mayo. Bergman was heterosexual.