Julia Ghahramani.

The death of a junior lawyer in her first year at Akin Gump has brought renewed attention to the risk of using illegal drug delivery services.

26-year-old Julia Ghahramani died after consuming cocaine which had secretly been mixed with a deadly amount of fentanyl.

In the week before her death in March 2021, Ghahramani told friends and family her workload at the US firm was intense, but that she was loving her first job. She had recently qualified and was working remotely from her apartment in New York’s East Village neighbourhood.

The following Wednesday the litigation associate texted "Can u come thru?" to a drug delivery service. "I’ll send them right now if you want", replied Billy Ortega, the alleged dealer. "That would be great thank you really appreciate it", said the lawyer. "No worries we family", Ortega answered.

Ortega allegedly despatched a courier in a Zipcar to Ghahramani’s address with instructions to collect $200. But the cocaine delivered to Ghahramani had been mixed with fentanyl, a powerful legal opioid prescribed as a pain killer. The stimulant, which is easy and cheap for traffickers to manufacture, can be cut into cocaine to increase its potency and addictiveness. 

Around six hours after the delivery Ortega texted her, "Hey", and, "Hey you there".  The next day, a friend found her dead in her apartment still holding her phone, which displayed seven missed calls from the drug delivery number. It transpired that within the space of 24 hours the same batch of spiked coke had also killed a trader and a social worker.

"She made a mistake", her father told The Wall Street Journal in its report on the circumstances of Ghahramani's death. "She had a hit of coke and unbeknownst to her it was loaded with fentanyl and it killed her".

He compared the presence of fentanyl in cocaine to dropping cyanide in an alcoholic drink during Prohibition. "Julia was a driven professional with everything to live for. Never in a billion years would she have touched anything with fentanyl", he said. "This is like putting bullets in people's brains".

Ghahramani was a passionate advocate for human rights who, before she joined Akin Gump, acted as the Deputy Director for the 2018 March For Our Lives rally in New York City protesting for "common sense gun regulations". Friends and family founded The Julia Ghahramani Foundation with the mission of upholding her beliefs by supporting charities and student-led organisations "dedicated to social justice issues" such as gun control, homelessness, and refugee rights, while Akin Gump has established the Julia Ghahramani Immigration Advocacy Award "to honor a member of the Akin Gump community who strongly advocated for immigrants".

Tip Off ROF


The war on drugs has failed 28 October 22 08:48

This wouldn’t happen if drugs were legal.

Legalise, tax and *regulate*.

Anonymous 28 October 22 09:11

Legalise, regulate, tax, inform, control, warn, restrict, fund rehabilitation and addiction treatment.

And don't EVER work for a firm which requires you to record 2,500 chargeable hours a year. If you ever want to chill your marrow about the use of drugs by lawyers to help them keep up their crazy hours, read "Smacked" by Eilene Zimmermann.

Fairtrade coke 28 October 22 10:06

Strange that she would be against gun violence but buy cocaine - one of the biggest causes of gun violence in the Americas.

Reminds me of all these people who are into ethical fashion and veganism, but perfectly happy to take recreational drugs - do you think the modern slaves growing/transporting/dealing your drugs are being treated ethically?

Anonymous 28 October 22 12:17

Drug dealers wouldn't have to cut their gear with fentanyl if it weren't for the racist discriminatory police constantly harassing them based on nothing but their skin colour. It dehumanised them, so how can you expect them not to do this?

They're the victims here. Not the rich white people inconvenienced by the affect on neighbourhood housing values caused by diverse communities engaging in vibrant street-market activity around them.

Defund The Police and you'll see this problem disappear.

Djed 28 October 22 15:00

No one made her take coke…and as someone else pointed out, being anti-gun but pro-coke is absolutely bizarre

Anonymous 28 October 22 18:14

@12.17 What do you even mean by "defund the police"?  Like have no police?  Then don't go whining to your local drug dealer when your car gets boosted or your kid beaten up.  

@12.17 28 October 22 20:44

What’s the name of your dealer because you must be smoking something really strong to come up with that nonsense

Mr Coffee 29 October 22 16:10

What a tragedy. 

This is nothing to do with whatever firm she was working at.

It's about a young woman who is dead because she couldn't buy what she wanted in a safe and reliable way.


Anonymous 29 October 22 18:42

I agree with Mr Coffee.

My dear Uncle Roger was murdered by a gang of vigilantes while he was minding his own business just trying to arrange to buy half an hour with a four year old boy.

And my late Aunt Vera shot herself with a dodgy unlicensed gun that she bought from a man at the market.

If only they could have just purchased whatever they wanted in a safe and reliable way. None of this would ever have happened.

The police have blood on their hands (the buyers and sellers are morally blameless of course).

Fronzel Neekburm 31 October 22 12:52

@Anonymous 29 October 22 18:42 

Mr Coffee is right. This girl died because she could not purchase a safe product. The comparison to child abuse /slavery is just plain wrong.  A better comparison would be to purchasing alcohol or cannabis.  Perhaps there ought to be better regulation for this sort of thing?     

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