Deadly synthetic marijuana known as K2 has been tied to two deaths and at least 56 illnesses in Chicago in recent weeks, leaving some users reportedly bleeding out of their eyes, ears, and mouths. But on Monday, local cops busted a convenience store selling packets of the substance that tested positive for chemicals found in rat poison.
According to the Chicago Tribune, three men have been accused of running an operation to sell synthetic cannabis from the King Mini Mart in Chicago after an undercover cop bought the street drug over the counter. The K2 found on Monday was packaged and labelled for sale using names like "Crazy Monkey," "Blue Giant," and "Matrix." Tests have since revealed the batch discovered at King Mini Mart was laced with brodifacoum—a toxic material commonly used in rodent killers.
The store’s owner, Fouad Masoud—along with his employees Jamil Abdelrahman Jad Allah and Adil Khan Mohammed—have been arrested and taken into custody, the Tribune reports. Masoud was reportedly snatched by officers on Sunday evening while leaving his home with $280,000 stuffed inside a grocery bag. It's not year clear whether investigators believe they have found the source of all the city's K2 illnesses at King Mini Mart.
Health officials in Illinois have been dealing with an outbreak of K2-related illnesses since March 10. The Illinois Department of Public Health said the two deaths occurred as a result of synthetic pot use, and dozens of others in the state were taken to hospital. Although the Tribune reports that bleeding from the eyes and ears is a symptom of brodifacoum, so far only nine people in the outbreak have tested positive for the chemical.
Of course, addiction to synthetics reaches far beyond the US. It's now a global problem. VICE has reported on the synthetic cannabis epidemic in New Zealand (where it’s called "synnies"), and in the UK (where it’s better known as "spice").
Made up entirely of chemicals designed to ape a marijuana high, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned about the huge potential for contamination in synthetic cannabinoids. Now that a batch has been found to contain rat poison, the risk has become all the more apparent.
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