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NYPD announces arrests, drug seizures after K2 overdoses

There were 240 reported overdoses from K2 in just two weeks in Brooklyn, the NYPD said.

More than 1,000 packets of K2 were seized

More than 1,000 packets of K2 were seized by NYPD Brooklyn North narcotics detectives, police said Thursday. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

With 240 reported overdoses from K2 in just two weeks in Brooklyn, the NYPD announced Thursday it had arrested scores of people and seized over a thousand packets of the synthetic drug.

Sometimes called “synthetic marijuana,” K2, created in a laboratory from a cocktail of synthetic drugs, has become the scourge of drug users, putting them into zombie-like states and causing them to lose consciousness. So far the city has reported no fatalities.

In the latest arrest announced Thursday, police said four people were grabbed at a location in Brownsville, Brooklyn, with 1,068 slickly produced packets emblazoned with drug trade names such as “Hulk,” “Cotton Balls,” and “Scooby Snax.” Police said the drugs have been primarily responsible for the outbreak of overdoses in that area. Ammunition also was recovered in the search of the premises, said Deputy Chief Michael Kemper, of the Detective Bureau for Brooklyn North.

One of the individuals arrested on a charge of possession of K2 with intent to sell had eight previous arrests for the same offense, Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said.

The packages, which were on display at NYPD headquarters, could easily be mistaken for candy by children, Shea said.

“You see cartoons, you see superheroes, you see things that a 2- or 3-year-old kid is going to naturally gravitate to,” Shea explained.

But he said the packages contain a dangerous substance that is of growing concern.

“You are literally playing Russian roulette,” Shea said. “What people are doing with some of these substances, they are taking illegal drugs with no knowledge whatsoever.”

K2 became a subject of concern for the NYPD in 2015, when officials said that in some cases the chemical used in its production had side effects that were much stronger than those of marijuana. The physical effects include nausea, hallucinations, vomiting, high blood pressure, confusion, seizure and loss of consciousness.

A flurry of overdoses in northern areas of Brooklyn beginning on May 19 jolted the NYPD into action.

A total of 74 people have been arrested since the overdoses began.

Kemper said the overdoses involved people from their late teens to early 70s, across all sexes and demographic traits.

The distribution points of some of the product had been bodegas and small stores. But after a round of recent arrests and store closings, the dealers have resorted to sending out runners to meet with customers, similar to what occurs with heroin and cocaine sales, police said.

“As we apply pressure, as [commanders] send their teams out to combat what we are seeing . . . the criminals adapt and change,” Shea noted.

Shea said the investigation was still continuing in an effort to find where the K2 originates. He indicated that the source of the K2 could be from overseas.

“There is still a lot of work to do,” Shea said.

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