ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday that he has directed State Police to help crack down on the latest synthetic drug craze that he warns will spread across the state like “fire through dry grass.”
The drug K2, a compound of chemicals that can leave victims in a zombie-like state, is blamed for a mass overdose in Brooklyn this week that resulted in 33 people being hospitalized. K2 is the latest version of the synthetic drug that two years ago was known as bath salts, which quickly made a deadly tear through New York.
“We have seen this crisis explode across the state several times and we want to make sure we are ahead of it this time,” Cuomo said Thursday. “It could be in Buffalo tomorrow morning.”
State Police working with the state Health Department are planning to make arrests for sales at convenience stores and fast-food eateries where the drug is often sold. Owners of the businesses will face the loss of lucrative lottery and liquor licenses if convicted, Cuomo said.
“Store owners can’t claim ignorance [of the sales], which is what they do,” Cuomo said. “That doesn’t work anymore. They know what they are selling.”
Five bodegas in Brooklyn were raided by police Wednesday following Tuesday’s mass overdose, The Associated Press reported. Witnesses reported seeing victims lying on the sidewalk, shaking and leaning against trees and fire hydrants in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood.
Cuomo said he directed State Police to pursue the arrests because of the need to smash the drug trafficking fast. He said there was nothing inadequate about the enforcement also being done by the NYPD.