Xylazine is not an opioid, but it is typically mixed with one like fentanyl.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Police are investigating the deaths of three people found inside a building in downtown Los Angeles that provides housing to underprivileged residents in the Skid Row area and detectives believe the deaths may have been drug-related.
The bodies of a woman and two men were discovered when firefighters responded to a medical emergency at the 649 Lofts in the 600 block of Wall Street around 3:14 p.m. Wednesday.
Authorities have since been looking into the possibility of drugs playing a role in their deaths. An official cause of death hasn't been released.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health issued a warning last month about a drug called xylazine - also known as "tranq" - that's been been raising concerns.
Xylazine is not an opioid, but it is typically mixed with one like fentanyl. Narcan, a lifesaving nasal spray, can help with opioid overdoses, but cannot reverse the effects of xylazine.
"It does appear sylazine is associated with worsening tissue infections, worsening wounds that if untreated, can lead to medical complications like amputation," said Brian Hurley, the medical director of the division substance abuse prevention and control for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. "So that's one of the risks against xylazine's presence on the drug supply is that it can be associated not just with overdose, but also with these wound infections that can be medically complicated to address."
The three deaths on Skid Row happened near Union Rescue Mission, a nonprofit organization that helps those living in Skid Row.
"Two of our guys in our program admitted to getting, recovering from using tranq and so apparently, it is on Skid Row," said Union Rescue Mission CEO and President Andy Bales.
Skid Row Housing Trust, a nonprofit housing provider that owns and operates 29 residential buildings, owns 649 Lofts and has recently faced some scrutiny.
The city of L.A. noticed financial problems for the trust had resulted in poor conditions.
The city then decided to step in last month and are now seeking a public health and safety receivership to save the 29 buildings. The court-appointed receiver would take control of the properties
In addition, the L.A. County Department of Health is working to obtain test strips that check for Xylazine.
Meanwhile, the identities for the three people found dead have not been released. The investigation remains ongoing.