24 charged with dealing K2 in downtown Austin, 18 remain on the run

A K2 outbreak at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) in downtown Austin on Aug. 25, 2016 (KXAN Photo)
A K2 outbreak at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) in downtown Austin on Aug. 25, 2016 (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — In an Austin police warrant roundup on Monday, 24 people were arrested in connection to dealing the drug known as K2. Warrants against 18 others are still outstanding.

In August, Austin-Travis County medics and Austin firefighters responded to numerous calls for people who became violently ill after taking K2, also known as synthetic marijuana. The vast majority of the incidents happened near the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) at East Seventh Street and Neches Street.

Juanita Price and Charles Herd were arrested last month and accused of supplying the bulk of K2 to Austin. They were found in possession of 4 kilograms (close to 9 pounds) of K2.

Austin police say Price and Herd distributed K2 to dealers who would then sell it around the ARCH. The 42 people with warrants for possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute have had 234 contacts with police in the past 12 months, APD records show.

Officers say the 234 contacts include previous arrests for involvement in aggravated assault, robbery, terroristic threat, injury to a child and deadly conduct.

“We are hopeful that these arrests will impact the overall issue we have experienced with K2 in the local downtown area,” said Lt. Kurt Thomas with APD’s Organized Crime Unit. “We are hopeful that we have disrupted the supply of this poison that has been pushed upon a very vulnerable segment of our community.”

From Spice to Kush, K2 has a variety of names on the street. It is marketed as incense, but sprayed with the same chemicals that mimic THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. People smoke K2, which produces “intoxicating effects,” police say.

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