Police have zeroed in on a suspect investigators believe sold the synthetic cannabis blamed for dozens of overdoses across Minneapolis earlier this month.
Acting on a tip, police last week raided a Brooklyn Center hotel room where they believed the dealer was operating, according to a recently filed warrant affidavit.
A Minneapolis detective said he heard from an informant that the 44-year-old man was selling "dirty" K-2 — another name for the drug, which mimics the effects of naturally grown marijuana but can be many times more potent — out of the Norwood Inn and Suites, at 6415 James Av. N., court records show.
Authorities suspect that batch of drugs was responsible for about 40 overdoses over the weekend of Oct. 6-8.
Police later obtained a search warrant for the man's hotel room, but it wasn't immediately clear what, if anything, was seized. The man hadn't been arrested as of Monday afternoon, according to online jail records.
In keeping with its policy, the Star Tribune is not naming the suspect because he hasn't been charged.
A police spokeswoman declined to comment on the case, citing the ongoing investigation.
Last week, health officials said that synthetic cannabis overdoses sent people to the Hennepin County Medical Center at least 60 times, in what appeared to be the most serious outbreak in the city since 2015. None of the cases was fatal, officials said.
The surge in overdoses drew alarm from lawmakers and community leaders.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., in a statement last week urged support for legislation that would make it easier to prosecute suspected K-2 dealers and distributors, and "curb the trafficking of synthetic drugs like K-2 into the U.S."
Synthetic cannabis, also called "spice," is usually sold online and at convenience stores, head shops and gas stations.
While many versions of the cheap, potent drug are already outlawed, authorities say that regulation is difficult because manufacturers are constantly tweaking the recipes of their drugs to skirt existing laws.
Its effects, authorities say, can be dangerous, and in some cases life-threatening. A quickened heart rate and seizures are common side effects, but some users also experience extreme anxiety, paranoia, and hallucination.
"Fortunately we have not experienced any deaths due to this recent series of K-2 overdoses," Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said in a statement last week. "The quick actions of first responders and proper medical care at area hospitals has no doubt played a role making sure these victims are OK."