Police in Florida have made an arrest in connection with fentanyl overdoses that involved U.S. Military Academy cadets at a Florida vacation home during spring break.
Police in Wilton Manors, FL — which is north of Fort Lauderdale in the Miami metropolitan area — said six men and a woman overdosed on fentanyl-laced cocaine and were taken to hospitals on Thursday.
Police said late Friday that they made an arrest but didn’t offer specifics, according to The Associated Press. On Saturday, Axel Giovany Casseus, a 21-year-old man from Lauderhill, appeared in a Broward County court and was jailed in lieu of $50,000 in bail, according to WPLG in Miami. Detectives found his phone number in one of the patient’s phones and ran an undercover operation that involved a $1,000 purchase of cocaine at a hotel parking lot in Fort Lauderdale.
Florida officials have only identified the patients as college students from New York, the AP reported. But a spokeswoman from the U.S. Military Academy said Saturday that five West Point cadets were involved and four were taken to the hospital.
Two of the cadets were football players, including one who was hospitalized, a West Point official told the AP. The incident is “under investigation,” and it’s unclear what disciplinary action the students may face.
Four of the seven patients voluntarily ingested the cocaine, and the other three encountered the drug when they performed CPR, WPLG reported.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue arrived at the home around 5 p.m. on Thursday, where the six men were “feeling the effects of a drug overdose,” according to a statement from the Wilton Manors Police Department. Several people were in cardiac arrest in the front yard.
The four patients who voluntarily took the cocaine were taken to Broward General Medical Center, WPLG reported, and two who gave CPR were taken to Holy Cross Hospital. The female patient was also later taken to the hospital after feeling ill.
Fire officials told the AP on Friday that two patients were critically ill and on ventilators. The rest were in stable or good condition, and at least one person had been released from the hospital.
Police officers evacuated and secured the home “due to the unidentified powdery substance,” the police statement said. The Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Hazmat Team arrived at the home, tested the powder, and found the cocaine was laced with fentanyl, a powerful and deadly synthetic opioid drug.
Drug overdose deaths have broken records in recent years, according to NPR. The increase has been driven by a surge in fentanyl overdoses, which have been linked to fentanyl-laced cocaine.
“This incident serves as a stark reminder to all, especially those visiting for Spring Break, of the deadly impacts of fentanyl,” Wilton Manors police said in the statement. “This synthetic opioid continues to have detrimental impacts on many communities.”