NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD is cracking down on the illegal sale of the dangerous K2 drug after reporting more than 50 overdoses and at least a dozen arrests in Brooklyn in recent days.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said there have been 56 confirmed overdose cases since Saturday.
“We want to get the word out that there is a dangerous batch of K2 out on the street in Brooklyn,” he said. “K2 in and of itself is very dangerous, but what we’re seeing over the last couple of days with 56 confirmed overdoses, there is a very dangerous batch circulating right now in Brooklyn.”
There was a stepped up police presence the intersection of Broadway and Myrtle Avenue on the border of Bed-Stuy and Bushwick Tuesday. Multiple officers were on foot patrol in the area and there was a new command center, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
“We’re gonna have a temporary headquarters here manned with a cop,” Deputy Inspector Winston Faison said in a video posted on Twitter. “We’re gonna be working in conjunction with the 83rd precinct.”
Police said the overdoses have been happening at four locations, three of which are homeless shelters: Fulton Street, Ralph Avenue, Van Sinderen Avenue and Atlantic Avenue.
Just after dawn Tuesday morning, CBS2 saw a man who appeared to be rolling a joint and lighting up on Fulton Street in East New York, Burrell reported.
Down the block, another man was hunched over and barely able to move, at one point stumbling right past resident Herman Antley as he spoke with Burrell about the prevalence of the synthetic marijuana.
“Do you see this a lot around here?” Burrell asked.
“Of course, of course,” Antley said.
“It’s a big problem,” Bed-Stuy resident Lillian Maduro said. “A lot of people stay down here, they sleep down here to get high and smoke.”
Later in the day, CBS2’s Alice Gainer saw a man smoking and convulsing outside the Ralph Avenue shelter.
“Just the other day, someone overdosed right along that street there,” said a man who lives in one of the shelters and sees people smoking K2 in the bathrooms. “I mean wall-to-wall in there with the K2.”
“A lot of people standing on corners looking like zombies, spaced out,” another man added.
The city health department says there were at least 84 emergency room visits related to K2 Saturday, Sunday and Monday – the largest number in a three-day period since 2016.
“We took down a major back in 2016, which kind of curtailed a lot of K2 in the city. There seems to be something uprising right now,” said Monahan.
Police have made a dozen arrests in the last two days, eight of them sellers.
“We want to make sure this doesn’t extend to other parts of the city,” Monahan said.
But some residents said they’re skeptical about how much police can really do.
“This truck is going to be gone in like a month and it’s going to be the same thing over again,” said Bushwick resident Tom Gorelik.
“It’s not gonna stop them,” said Antley. “It’s a cheap high.”
And that, they said, is at the root of the problem. Many of the overdose patients are addicts who they believe will find a way to the drug regardless of how toxic the strain may be.
“They’ll smoke it, they don’t care,” said Maduro. “I’m glad they’re giving them warning, but sometimes the warning they don’t help.”
Police said in the past, K2 was made in China and sold in bodegas. But now, it’s being sold on the street.