Conn. city overdoses top 100, police announce another arrest

Chief Anthony Campbell told the media Friday that the surge of synthetic marijuana overdoses, which gripped the city for more than 24 hours, seem to have calmed down


By Nicholas Rondinone and Josh Kovner
The Hartford Courant

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — By late morning Friday, the overdoses in the city had topped 100 and the police chief said some people had been to the hospital four or five times since the onset Wednesday. But a raid late Thursday may have netted another one of the dealers, officials said.

Chief Anthony Campbell told the media Friday that the surge of synthetic marijuana overdoses, which gripped the city for more than 24 hours, seem to have calmed down. No new reports came in by midday Friday.

“It is our hope and our prayer that we have come to the end of this crisis,” Campbell said.

A spokesman for the mayor put the exact number at 114 hospitalizations for overdoses.

The name of the person arrested late Thursday was not immediately available. Police had charged two other men, Felix Melendez, 37, and John Parker, 53, with possessing the drug in their aggressive investigation into the overdoses.

Campbell said it appears at least one of the men the drug was handed out to people in the New Haven Green in an attempt to stir demand and build a clientele.

Through the day Thursday, police had a contingent of officers and detectives, nearly two dozen at times, assigned to the green as overdoses continued.

On Thursday, police suspected the batch of K2, or synthetic marijuana, was still circulating through the area. The drug, experts say, is part of a group called synthetic cannabinoids, which are chemicals often created in illegal labs that act on the same brain receptors as marijuana.

Campbell said Friday that samples they collected of the batch tested positive for the chemical Fubinaca, which the Drug Enforcement Administration said is common in these types of drugs.

Campbell said it was Fubinaca that was really “knocking people down.”

Doctors from Yale-New Haven Hospital said the batch was fast acting.

“We’ve discovered that the K2 involved was very short acting but also rapid acting version of the drug,” said Dr. Sandy Bogucki, the EMS and medical director for the Yale-New Haven Hospital region. “People who smoked it or ingested it tended to go down very fast, almost right in their tracks. And then although many of them had to be resuscitated ... the effects did not last long and they were able to be discharged from the hospital fairly soon which meant they were able to return to the green and seek another high.”

Campbell said some of those people who overdosed were sent back to the hospital as many as five times after consuming the drugs again.

The state, amid the surge in overdoses, dispatched assistance to the city. Officials have called for greater federal intervention, as well.

Copyright 2018 The Hartford Courant

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