The teen was reportedly found unresponsive in his room at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall (BJNJH) in Sylmar.
SYLMAR, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A teen died of an apparent overdose at a Los Angeles County juvenile hall, weeks after a state oversight board declined to shut down the facility.
According to the L.A. Times, the teen was found unresponsive in his room at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall (BJNJH) in Sylmar.
Now, county officials are investigating whether the teen overdosed on fentanyl.
"I can't go into details, partly because it's under investigation and partly because I don't have them all but that seems like a reasonable assumption," said L.A. County Inspector General Max Huntsman. "Fentanyl is a big challenge. This is why fentanyl is the scourge that it is, particularly in custody facilities because it's very easy to smuggle and that's also the reason why it's very easy to overdose, because it takes small amounts."
Huntsman said drugs flowing into the juvenile hall system throughout L.A. County has been a huge problem. Teenagers in the system have overdosed and have been revived time after time until now.
"This is the first overdose that was fatal. That's why this is so tragic," he said.
The L.A. Times said an officer deployed Narcan, a nasal spray that can reverse an opioid overdose, but didn't work in this case.
"We've had some overdoses that weren't fatal because of the efforts that are made to prevent the fatalities, they've been successful," said Huntsman.
He adds the county is looking at the possibility of bringing in drug-sniffing dogs to help root out drugs smuggled into the county juvenile detention system.
"That's another of the ways probation is trying to expand their ability to stop drugs coming in," said Huntsman. "That's one of the tools."
An April 7 report conducted by the L.A County Office of Inspector General took an in-depth look at how drugs and contraband were entering juvenile halls, including BJNJH.
In the report, the office confirmed three overdose incidents at the facility this year. Two of the three incidents involved the same youth on two consecutive days.
The other involved another youth housed in the same unit.
Authorities searched the unit and found fentanyl pills, some of which were hidden in the door lock and a bottle of lotion.
The report also noted that packages containing contraband are apparently being thrown over the perimeter walls of BJNJH into the facility.
According to probation staff, spray-painted arrows were found drawn on the outside of the walls, which they believe gives people directions to the location where the packages can be thrown over the wall.
The probation report conducts perimeter checks inside the facility three times a day, but the OIG report states there are no logs kept of those checks and no checks are being conducted outside of the facility.
"Youths find ways to distract staff in order to break the back doors of their units to collect the contraband thrown over the walls," read the report.
The report also details how some teens orchestrated fake Door Dash food deliveries to bring contraband into the facility.
Investigators said the youths arranged for family and friends to come visit the facility disguised as Door Dash workers.
"The Probation Department staff, in contravention of Probation Department policies, would then accept the order at the entrance of the facility, claim it as their own, and then drop it off to the youth as a favor," the report read.
According to the report, the teens were hiding contraband, including pills wrapped inside burritos.