The New Haven Police Department arrested eight people for possession or sale of illegal drugs Tuesday. One suspect remains at large.

According to the NHPD, a group of eight men and women was arrested and charged with various drug-related crimes on Tuesday. The charges against the suspects include counts of possession of K2 — a synthetic cannabinoid — the sale of heroin and K2, as well as the “intent to sell” K2. The accused are from different areas in New Haven, and some live in West Haven and Waterbury. But all were arrested near either the APT Foundation, a substance abuse walk-in evaluation center, or the New Haven Green.

Police are looking for the one suspect still at large, a 36-year-old man who was described in the NHPD press release as a white hispanic man with brown eyes and black hair. If arrested, he will be charged with selling K2, according to the NHPD.

“Ideally, we wouldn’t be seeing any arrests, because there shouldn’t be any incentive to sell K2 in New Haven — arresting dealers doesn’t end one’s desire to get high,” Ward 1 Alder Hacibey Catalbasoglu ’19 said in an email to the News. “Although cutting the supply of K2 to New Haven residents is a step in the right direction, we should also be focusing on wraparound services that allow K2 users to rehabilitate.”

Catalbasoglu applauded the “bravery” of the NHPD for its “robust and swift” initiatives to keep the Elm City community safe.

K2, which is sometimes referred to as herbal or liquid incense, “spice” or “fake weed,” is a synthetic cannabinoid that is an illegal schedule-one controlled substance. Schedule-one drugs have a high potential for abuse due to their addictive qualities, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration website.

The NHPD’s investigative efforts come in the wake of five overdoses in an approximately one-hour-long period on Jan. 25 and another five overdoses within a six-hour period on Feb. 1. In the NHPD release, the department said its efforts to find the dispensers of K2 in New Haven began on Jan. 25, when five overdoses and one death occurred in the same area over a short period of time, causing the NHPD to believe that the overdoses were a result of a “bad batch” of K2.

According to the NHPD, the Criminal Intelligence Unit, the Shooting Task Force, the Narcotics Enforcement Unit and the New Haven DEA Office have worked together to develop an investigative plan to capture those responsible for the distribution and sale of K2. In its press release, the NHPD quoted the National Institute on Drug Abuse, saying that K2 is one of the new psychoactive substances — unregulated, mind-altering drugs that have become newly available on the market and are intended to mimic the effects of other illegal drugs. At an emergency press conference after the first round of five overdoses, Byron Kennedy SPH ’01, New Haven director of health, said that K2 is often laced with other dangerous substances.

The APT Foundation is located at 495 Congress Ave.

Christina Carrafiell | christina.carrafiell@yale.edu