New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell said they have arrested two known K2 drug dealers, one who police believe was just passing out the toxic drug on Wednesday to unsuspecting users.
The number of people treated for apparent overdoses of a synthetic drug at a large park near Yale University over the past three days increased to almost 80 Thursday. No deaths were reported but two people are seriously ill, authorities said. In May, for example, 25 people were hospitalized in one area of Brooklyn, New York, after having negative reactions to what was believed to be K2, police said.
Police said they arrested a person of interest in connection with the mass overdose. "I've never seen anything quite this bad happening at once".
Two former addicts said nearly any drug can be sprayed on K2, or even dribbled out of eye droppers.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the substance behind the overdoses is highly unsafe and must be avoided.
The names of the suspects haven't been released.
"Bodies are literally dropping all around me from suspected drug overdoses", said Mario Boone, a TV journalist at the park. At least 10 people overdosed more than once and were transported by ambulance several times, he said.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp says she is looking into getting addiction specialists placed on the green. Officials said on Wednesday night that the tally had reached 76, according to NBC News. No deaths were reported in either outbreak.
The fire department gave the affected individuals naloxone, a drug used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergencies, but those doses were reportedly ineffective.
The CDC said a record 72,000 Americans died past year because of drug overdose - about 10 percent higher than previous figures. One person has been arrested so far.
Officials said Wednesday's response was a tremendous drain on the fire department.
Witnesses from the park called 911 in droves, reporting "multiple of signs and symptoms ranging from vomiting, hallucinating, high blood pressure, shallow breathing, semi-conscious and unconscious states", according to Rick Fontana, director of New Haven's Office of Emergency Operations, Yahoo News reported. The state even had to send in an extra 50 doses. All the victims reported smoking synthetic marijuana, known on the streets as K2. Most of those overdoses also happened at the New Haven green, the wire service said.
A similar, but smaller overdose incident, played out on the Green on July 4, when more than a dozen people became sick from synthetic marijuana, according to the Associated Press.