Feds: New Haven overdoses shed light on much larger issue of addiction

More than 100 people overdosed on K2 over a 36 hour period in New Haven, according to police. (WFSB)
John Parker (left) and Felix Melendez (right) were arrested in connection to New Haven overdoses (New Haven Police)

NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) –

Connecticut’s state and federal lawmakers met on Monday to discuss the recent synthetic drug overdoses in New Haven.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Gov. Dannel Malloy met with Office of the National Drug Control Policy acting director Jim Carroll.

Not only did they talk about the more than 120 emergency calls, they also got to witness it.

As Carroll met with leaders on Monday on New Haven’s green, just a few feet away, firefighters and medics rushed toward another emergency call.

“The green is not the problem, addiction is the problem and the people who’d prey on those who have an addiction is the problem," Malloy said on Monday.

Carroll spent the day meeting with Malloy, Blumenthal, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp, and other stakeholders for a roundtable on addiction.

This follows last week’s outbreak of more than 100 overdoses of the synthetic drug K2.

The Office of the National Drug Control Policy is tasked with coming up with a national strategy when it comes to reducing illegal drug use.

Carroll said last week’s overdoses can raise awareness toward the much large issue of addiction.

“Prevent people from getting addicted, getting help to those people who are suffering and as the senator talked about, to stop the traffickers, the people who are preying on these people. I do think this is a good opportunity," Carroll said.

Before the discussion, Blumenthal said he’d urge new tactics and strategies to address the opioid public health emergency as well as the recent synthetic overdoses on the New Haven Green last week.

He said he would also seek support from Carroll for legislation on the Senate floor that would make it easier to prosecute the sale and distribution of synthetic drugs, like K2 and fentanyl.

Last week’s K2 overdoses gained national attention.

Emergency crews treated 114 cases, which included hallucinations, vomiting, and unconsciousness. A number of them were the same patient being treated multiple times.

Several people were arrested in connection with the distribution of the K2, including New Haven residents 53-year-old John Parker and 37-year-old Felix Melendez.

Both suspects were arrested this past winter for selling K2 on the green, police said.

Police said in last week’s cases, the drug was laced with the chemical fubinaca, a potent synthetic drug that causes a zombie-like trance with users where they can convulse and pass out.

Officers said they expect to make more arrests.

Copyright 2018 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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