Seven individuals, including at least five cadets from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, overdosed on Fentanyl-laced cocaine while on spring break in Florida on Thursday.
In an emailed statement to American Military News, the U.S. Military Academy confirmed only that an incident had taken place involving West Point cadets, but did not provide additional details.
“The U.S. Military Academy is aware of the situation involving West Point cadets, which occurred Thursday night in Wilton Manors, FL,” the statement read. “The incident is currently under investigation and no other details are available at this time.”
Wilton Manors Police Department told The Associated Press on Friday that the seven victims experienced overdose symptoms and were taken to local hospitals. As of Saturday, the Associated Press reported two of the five cadets were in critically ill condition and placed on ventilators, while the rest were in stable or good condition and at least one had been released from the hospital.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue told ABC 10 News that four of the cadets had voluntarily ingested the cocaine and the other three cadets came into contact with fentanyl when they performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on their fellow cadets.
A West Point official told The Associated Press that one of the cadets who was hospitalized is an Army football player. Another football player was also reportedly at the rental property where the incident occurred but was not hospitalized. The injured cadets included six men and one woman.
Neither the academy nor responding authorities provided additional identifying information about the West Point cadets or other individuals involved in the incident.
“This incident serves as a stark reminder to all, especially those visiting for Spring Break, of the deadly impacts of Fentanyl,” the Wilton Manors Police Department said in a statement.
Detectives from the Broward County Sheriff’s office and the Wilton Manor Police Department are investigating the incident. Authorities said on Friday night that they had made an arrested in the case. ABC 10 News reported on Sunday that the suspect was identified as 21-year-old Axel Giovany Casseus of Lauderhill.
Casseus appeared in Broward County court on Saturday.
Detectives “were able to ascertain the cellphone number of the alleged dealer who supplied the narcotics to the victims,” the arresting documents stated. Casseus was found in possession of the “cellphone used to communicate with the undercover detective and overdose victim.”
Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic which is used in medical settings as a painkiller. According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fentanyl is 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine and has been associated with a high number of both fatal and nonfatal drug overdoses in the U.S. in recent years.