Eight suspects have been arrested in connection with a string of drug overdoses, New Haven Police announced Monday afternoon.
New Haven city officials issued a public health alert in late January after a several K2 overdoses in short period of time. K2 is the synthetic cannabinoid called “spice” and “fake weed.”
Police said they made the arrests near the historic New Haven Green and the APT Foundation on Congress Avenue.
Sam Sigg, who is in charge of building maintenance at the Trinity on the Green, showed NBC Connecticut the collection of drug paraphernalia he has picked up around the perimeter of the Episcopal Church, including needles and little plastic packets that used to contain drugs, such as K2.
“So if that’s happening right here,” Sigg said, “you can imagine how much is happening all over the Green.”
An investigation by NHPD’s Criminal Intelligence Unit, Shooting Task Force, Narcotics Enforcement Unit and the New Haven DEA Office led to the arrests of the eight people on drug sale and possession charges.
“Our job is to investigate the source of this nasty drug,” New Haven Police Officer David Hartman said.
Police have obtained a warrant for Felix Melendez. Once located, he will be arrested and charged with the sale of a controlled substance.
Jose Vega, who police arrested and charged with robbery, told the sergeant who took him into custody that he stole cash in order to purchase K2, police said.
“User(s) and addicts can be very instrumental in helping us make the apprehensions of those people who are taking what is nothing less than poison,” Hartman said.
Saving lives is the priority for law enforcement, Hartman said.
“We want people to come forward,” Hartman added. “We’ll get you the help you need even if it’s through the court system.”
Sigg said he was aware of undercover police operations targeting the source of the dangerous synthetic drug.
“We’re very glad because we see it every day right outside our steps,” Sigg said.
The church offers a weekly spiritual fellowship aimed at putting people on a path to recover from substance abuse.
“People who have struggles with addiction, and with substance use can come share their problems, share how their doing, get encouragement,” Sigg said.
Sigg said dozens of people have received help since that fellowship began about a year and a half ago.
The group meets on Tuesdays at the church on the corner of Temple and Chapel streets.
One NHPD officer who patrols the Green told NBC Connecticut he has seen a drop in drug activity since the arrests were made last week.