FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Authorities are asking for the public’s help in sniffing out a bad batch of synthetic drugs circulating in the northern Red River Valley of North Dakota and Minnesota that police believe led to two overdose deaths in the last week.
Timothy Purdon, U.S. attorney in North Dakota, said Wednesday there have been multiple overdoses in the Grand Forks and East Grand Forks, Minn., areas in the last month that appear to be linked to the drugs.
“We want to get the word out as a matter of public safety to alert parents and young people that these drugs — at least this batch we are dealing with here — has this added danger,” Purdon said.
Authorities on Wednesday released the name of the second victim. Elijah Stai, 17, of Park Rapids, Minn., died last weekend in a Grand Forks hospital, apparently from an overdose of synthetic drugs.
Police said it appears that Christian Bjerk, 18, of Grand Forks, died from a similar overdose. His body was found on a north Grand Forks sidewalk on June 11.
An emergency meeting to discuss the overdoses was held Tuesday in Grand Forks with state, federal and local law enforcement representatives. Following the meeting, Purdon’s office put out a release warning that a “growing number of dangerous products have been introduced into the marketplace.”
The drugs are generally referred to as synthetic psychedelics or synthetic hallucinogens. The mood-altering effects of the drug are similar to LSD or acid, police said.
Some of the drugs have been seized by area law enforcement in the form of multi-colored blotter paper and white powder. Stai is believed to have ingested the powder that was mixed with melted chocolate, cooled and eaten like candy, police said.
East Grand Forks Police Lt. Rod Hajicek said Stai’s mother is worried about the safety of others.
“She told me she would do whatever she could to help. She doesn’t want any other family to go through what she is going through right now,” Hajicek said.
Hajicek said two arrests have been made, one in Grand Forks and one in East Grand Forks, in relation to the overdoses. Prosecutors in Polk County, Minn., were reviewing possible charges in Stai’s case, the lieutenant said.
“It seems to be isolated to the Grand Forks-East Grand Forks area right now,” Hajicek said. “But anytime we have two individuals dead within a couple days of each other, that certainly gets our attention.”
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