(WTNH) – According to New Haven Police Chief Anthony Campbell, officers are executing search warrants, and going into specific homes to get this bad batch of “K2” off the streets; and when you combine the overdoses from Wednesday and Thursday, the number is nearly 100.
Campbell said that authorities have identified the drug causing the overdoses as a kind of K2 called Fubinaca.
During a press conference on Friday afternoon, officials announced that Felix Melendez and John Parker were arrested for their alleged connection to the overdoses. Authorities say a third, unnamed suspect is being held by the DEA pending federal charges.
Senator Richard Blumenthal said Friday that the federal government and the Trump administration need to fight back against the origins of these drugs.
“We need new tactics to address the new synthetics because primarily they’re coming across our borders — China and Mexico. I hope this administration will put aside tariff feuds and the trade wars and focus on the synthetics coming across our borders.”
Connecticut’s other senator, Democrat Chris Murphy, met with substance abuse care workers who treat clients who are addicted to drugs. They told him a lack of resources contributed to problems on the New Haven Green.
“They went to the hospital, they were treated, they were sobered up, and then they were dispatched back to the Green and they were not provided with any other resources,” said Maya Spell. “If there were more beds available, more detox or in-patient beds available then patients would not be discharged from the Emergency Room and back to the Green.”
That prompted this response from Senator Murphy:
“The federal government is the biggest problem here,” he said. “We’ve had a law on the books for decades that disallows Medicare dollars from being used for long-term treatment beds. I have been trying to get that provision repealed. Admittedly, it’s an expensive change.”
So far, three people have been arrested in connection with the overdoses. It’s believed one of them was passing out the K2 for free to get people hooked; specifically targeting the homeless or mentally ill.
“When someone gives out something for free, everybody runs to it and that’s what happened basically,” said James Thomas, a Spiritual Leader at Trinity Church in New Haven. “You had people going to the hospital yesterday, leaving the hospital and coming back out.”
Police and paramedics had a strong presence on the green Thursday as a precaution. During the height of everything on Wednesday, the overdose reversal drug Narcan was not working on some of the patients, according to the Public Health Commissioner, so higher doses had to be brought in to the area.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee, Ned Lamont, was with Senator Blumenthal on Friday. He proposed creating a Czar-like position in Connecticut that would oversee drug-addiction relief efforts. He said one component of that could be making sure cities and towns have adequate supplies of Narcan readily-available.
“The reason why a cabinet-level position is a good idea is because you don’t attack this crisis one way,” said Sen. Murphy. “You’ve got to do better treatment, more prevention dollars, you have to have a law enforcement component.”
Despite the high number of overdoses in a short span of time, no deaths have been reported.
New Haven Mayor Toni Harp also says that President Trump’s Drug Czar nominee, Jim Carroll, is expected to visit New Haven on Monday in the wake of what happened here.