Two More Arrests Made In New Haven As Overdoses Climb

By Benjie Cooper

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A rash of synthetic marijuana (K2) overdoses that began Tuesday night has continued to climb in the city of New Haven, Connecticut. As of Wednesday evening, emergency crews had responded to more than forty cases of synthetic marijuana poisoning that occurred in the city within a 24-hour period, mostly at the New Haven Green park.

But the overdoses haven’t stopped on Thursday as the number has now jumped up to 76.

The chemical formula used to concoct fake marijuana is an imprecise, ever-changing mixture of substances that offer the user a random assortment of dangerous potential side effects.

There have been no deaths caused by this week’s overdose surge, but two people had life-threatening reactions, and others exhibited strong negative responses to the drugs that necessitated emergency medical attention.

“Do not come down to the Green and purchase this K2,” New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell told WVIT. “It is taking people out very quickly, people having respiratory failure. Don’t put your life in harm.”

While some initially believed that the synthetic marijuana might have been tainted with Fentanyl, a test conducted by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) failed to find any traces of it on the fake cannabis, though it may have been present in some of OD victims’ systems.

Some victims responded positively to naloxone (Narcan), an opioid antidote, but others did not until they were given higher doses at the hospital.

Police arrested 37-year-old parolee Felix Melendez on Wednesday, believing him to be connected to at least some of the overdoses. Two additional individuals have been taken into custody this morning as well.

“Today’s emergency is deeply troubling and illustrative of the very real and serious threat that illicit street drugs pose to the health of individuals,” said Governor Dannel Malloy in a statement. “The substance behind these overdoses is highly dangerous and must be avoided.”

Officials are currently unsure whether the additional overdoses on Thursday morning are connected to the same bad batch of synthetic marijuana that is being blamed for the Wednesday surge in K2 poisonings.