AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two people have been arrested in connection with the latest K2 outbreak in Downtown Austin. Twenty-five people were treated in the past day after using the synthetic drug K2, which Austin police believe the drugs may have come from Houston.
Austin police held a news conference Tuesday showing the individually rolled cigarettes being sold on the streets. The latest cases were centered in the east downtown area. When ambulances started showing up to the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) on Monday, authorities said they pulled up their surveillance cameras in the area and started combing through the video to find the suspects handing out the drugs.
“So we backed up the footage to see what activity was going on prior to the EMS calls coming in and we were able to narrow it down to those two individuals,” said Cmdr. Chris McIlvein. “They are known individuals in Austin.”
Police charged 51-year-old Charles Hubbard with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver.
On Saturday, authorities also arrested a Houston man who gave them information on new K2 shipments.
“He just made statements to the officers that the reason he was in town from Houston was because he was delivering K2 for the sole purpose of distributing it in the downtown area to the transient population,” explained McIlvein.
Police are still trying to determine if the Houston man is connected to Hubbard.
In these recent cases, the packets had chemical compounds that have been identified as an illegal substance, which makes law enforcement’s job a little easier.
“This is the first batch where we’ve actually had a batch that had a known chemical compound that had already been identified as an illegal substance,” said McIlevin. “What generally happens is we get a batch that doesn’t have any of the chemicals that have previously been identified, then it’s up to the prosecutor, DEA and the labs to identify what is in this particular compound and make it illegal.”
None of the cases were expected to be life-threatening, Austin-Travis County EMS officials said Monday.
Earlier this year, Austin medics were called to at least 45 incidents related to the drug. That outbreak was believed to be linked to more than 100 overdose cases in the Dallas area. The dangerous strain of synthetic marijuana was called “The Walking Dead.”
Austin police said many of the cases from this summer involved homeless people.
Drug Enforcement Agency agents later seized several head shops in Dallas and Austin after a bust involving synthetic marijuana, according to court documents.
- K2, or “spice,” is a mixture of herbs and spices sprayed with various chemicals, similar to the psychoactive part in marijuana: THC.
- This synthetic marijuana comes in bags and resembles potpourri.
- The “high” from taking the drug comes quickly and stays with the user for hours.
- K2 causes a loss of physical control — leading to seizures, vomiting and elevated blood pressure. Paranoia and delusions are also risk factors.
- K2 is relatively new on the drug scene. Therefore, its long-term impacts are not known.
- K2 was banned nationwide in 2012.