PUNTA GORDA, Florida–Six West Point Military Academy cadets were hospitalized after overdosing on fentanyl-laced cocaine on March 10 in a suburb of Fort Lauderdale while on spring break. Two are listed in critical condition on ventilators, three are stable, and one has been released, according to police reports.
West Point issued a statement the afternoon of March 11 acknowledging the March 10 events at a rental house and said they were going to investigate.
“The U.S. Military Academy is aware of the situation involving West Point cadets, which occurred Thursday night (March 10) in Wilton Manors, FL,” said a statement from the academy’s public affairs office. “The incident is currently under investigation and no other details are available at this time.”
According to reports, an unidentified woman was also taken to the hospital and treated but it is not known whether she suffered an overdose, or if she was affiliated with the academy.
“We are being told that four of those people had taken a substance that was believed to be cocaine laced with fentanyl when they went down into cardiac arrest.”
The statement went on to say that two students ran to another house for help while two other cadets administered CPR. The cadets giving mouth-to-mouth succumbed to the drugs as well.
“They went down,” Gollan said in the statement referring to the two students giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,” he said. “We were trying to get those two individuals back, so their heart was beating again, with Narcan. However, four of those individuals were still in respiratory arrest.”
Authorities fear that a “bad batch of drugs” may lead to other near-fatal situations.
“It brings great concern there could be more ODs over the next couple of days, just basing what we are seeing with the fentanyl we saw that was here,” Gollan told reporters. “This is a great concern because you have a drug that’s laced with unknown substance here, and I mean, it’s just the beginning of Spring Break.”
Gollan reported that the six cadets were staying in the suburban Airbnb home with several other students.
This incident comes two days after Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody released a statement on the increasing amount of “counterfeit pills” that are laced with fentanyl with some users overdosing and dying after taking “just one pill.”
“Spring break is underway, and while millions are flocking to Florida for vacation, I am asking students to take precautions while enjoying some time away from school,” Moody said in her release. “Deadly fentanyl from Mexico is flooding the illicit drug market and taking just one counterfeit pill laced with this synthetic opioid can kill.”
Opioids are a family of drugs that include prescription painkillers such as hydrocodone and oxycodone, as well as illegal drugs like heroin, she explained in her statement.
Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says, from 1999 to 2019, nearly 841,000 people died from a drug overdose, and in 2019 more than 71,000 died from drug overdoses and it was the leading cause of death in the United States. More than 70 percent of overdose deaths were caused by an opioid prescription, heroin or fentanyl (synthetic opioids), they said.
Provisional data from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Medical Examiners Commission 2020 Interim Report, indicate there were 3,834 opioid-related deaths reported–a 30 percent increase since 2019.
According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Fentanyl is a “synthetic prescription opioid”–made illegally and is 100 times more powerful than morphine. For example, the website stated, “just two milligrams of fentanyl is considered a lethal dose.”
Ashley Moody said a law was passed in 2017 that allows drug dealers to face murder charges if a fentanyl sale leads to an overdose.