Man is arrested after 70 people overdose on K2 in New Haven

Yale University

Cops described a grim scene on the Green - situated in downtown New Haven to the south and west of Yale's sprawling campus - which attracts homeless people and drug users throughout the year.

No deaths were reported, but officials on Wednesday said two people had suffered life-threatening symptoms.

The exact cause of the overdoses has not been confirmed, but officials suspect that synthetic cannabinoids, also called K2 or spice, are the culprit.

"[Fire Chief] Alston says the substance appears to be some type of synthetic cannabis, but authorities are not sure".

Fontana said the city's 911 center started receiving calls just after 8 a.m. about possible overdoses at the park.

Rick Fontana, director of Emergency Operations for New Haven, said the patients had symptoms of increased heart rates, decreased respiratory rates and a lot of vomiting.

The incident comes in the wake of a new report that found a record 72,000 Americans died of overdoses in 2017. Police said Wednesday afternoon that they had made an arrest in connection to the overdoses, WFSB reports. "Thus far, 13 patients have been transported to area hospitals for overdose related illnesses", police spokesman David Hartman said in a release.

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Police said as many as 30 people were treated or taken to hospital from the area around the park, while local media reported at least 76 overdoses occurred in the city within a 24-hour period.

They believe the marijuana may have been laced with an opiate or fentanyl.

"Today New Haven was on the front lines of a coast-to-coast struggle to combat the public health menace of illicit distribution and use of what appear to be tainted street drugs", said New Haven Mayor Toni Harp in a statement.

"Testing done today in NY by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency confirms that samples of the substance that caused today's overdose cases on the New Haven Green are K-2, a potent, synthetic drug that induces marijuana-like effects", said Director of Communications for New Haven, Laurence Grotheer.

He warned the substance behind the overdoses was "highly unsafe and must be avoided".

The latest incident in CT comes as new preliminary estimates on 2017 overdose deaths were released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some people were unconscious, others were semi-conscious.

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