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NYPD, Health Officials Fighting K2 Surge

The NYPD raided five small groceries in Brooklyn in response to a mass overdose of the chemical drug K2.  Officials say access to the synthetic marijuana is on the rise in several different areas of New York City.

Police spokesperson James Byrne says that police did not find the drug, which is illegal in New York State, in any of their raids, but three individuals were taken into custody on charges of selling improperly taxed cigarettes, The New York Times reported.

On Wednesday, emergency workers noticed a signs of extensive K2 use in the area where the Bedford Stuyvesant and Bushwick neighborhoods intersect. One man was seen rocking back and forth with a hand rolled cigarette between his fingers, another mans who was shoeless was seen sitting on a tree stump with a “no smoking K2” sign behind him. Two other individuals sat on the sidewalk in a drug induced stupor — the male struggled to keep his eyes open and the female folding over herself.

A group of 33 people were treated on Tuesday for overdoses. Hospital officials said the patients were brought to them in waves and most of them appeared to be lethargic and disoriented. One patient was so discombobulated that he couldn’t even translate his identity to the doctor. Dr. Robert Chin, chief of the emergency department at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn said, “I would describe it as a deep sleep.”

Kimbell Frazier, supervisor at the nonprofit Bowery Mission regularly helps hand out sandwiches and apples to people in the area. He says it’s been an ongoing problem. “It moves from neighborhood to neighborhood. It never stops being in one place for too long,” he said.

Frazier recounted that K2 was a prevalent problem around the Bowery Mission, a shelter that serves the homeless on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The shelters’ leaders were forced to alter their policies to prohibit traffic around the area.

James J. Hunt, a special agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York Division has been doing his best to eliminate access to K2. “We took a lot of the product off the streets and out of the warehouses, and for a while it was tougher to get it on the street. But it’s back.”

The chemicals that give K2 its potency were originally produced in China. However, those chemicals were sprayed on an inert plant after being shipped to the states. Now it’s being packaged and sold everywhere imaginable. Hunt says, “The whole guise here is to make people think it’s similar to marijuana.”


Image: Associated Press