Police in Connecticut executed search warrants and arrested three people on Thursday after 100 people allegedly overdosed on K2 this week in and around New Haven’s historic village green next to Yale University.
Police will name those arrested by Friday evening, they said, while they swarmed the park and searched peoples’ homes looking for K2, the banned synthetic marijuana they believe is responsible for the overdose outbreak, according to the Associated Press.
New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell said at a Friday news conference that one of the three people arrested in connection with the overdoses was a dealer who gave K2 away for free to get people hooked so they would later purchase his product.
The Drug Enforcement Administration is assisting in the probe, and the suspects face not only criminal charges in state court, but potentially federal charges as well, Campbell said.
No deaths have been reported thus far, but three people remain in critical condition in a local hospital, according to FOX 61, the local FOX affiliate in Hartford. The first victim overdosed Wednesday morning, and since then more than 100 have fallen victim to the drugs, according to the station.
K2, or “spice” as it is called on the street, is usually plant material sprayed with psychoactive substances and sold in small, colorful packets. Since it exploded on the scene starting in 2015, the drug has been blamed for mass overdoses across the country.
In May, for example, more than 50 people in Brooklyn overdosed on K2, none fatally, the Associated Press reports.
The 16-acre New Haven village green that is the epicenter of the current spate of overdoses dates back to 1638, according to the National Park Service, making it one of the oldest in New England. It lies at the center of downtown New Haven, surrounded by Yale University, shops, churches, government buildings and mass transit facilities.
As of mid-Friday morning there had no reports of new K2 overdoses, Chief Campbell said at Friday morning’s news conference. “So it is our hope and our prayer that we have come to the end of the crisis.”
New Haven police, Campbell added, will remain a visible force in and round the village green, “to make sure anyone else that would think about filling the gap that has been opened up by the arrest of these three offenders would be deterred.”
[PHOTO: AP Photo/Bill Sikes]