AUSTIN -- Since Monday afternoon, dozens have gone to the hospital after taking a dangerous batch of K2.
Police have already arrested two in connection with the laced synthetic marijuana, including 51-year-old Charles Hubbard, but believe there could be a much larger operation going on.
According to court documents, police arrested Hubbard on an outstanding warrant and discovered a 10-gram package of "Klimax," a brand of K2, along with 10 individually wrapped cigarettes containing the same substance (pictured below).
Police said Hubbard admitted to selling the "blunts" for $5 each on Monday, and surveillance video footage also showed Hubbard involved in the sales.
Hubbard is charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Police said another woman is in custody, but she has not been charged and police have obtained a warrant to search her hotel room on Tuesday.
Paramedics with Austin-Travis County EMS said Wednesday that at least 27 people were treated for adverse reactions after taking K2.
Investigators believe packages of "Mind Trip" and "Klimax" are the brand behind it. The synthetic marijuana can be bought at head shops and in this case, police say the seller then rolled it into cigarettes and laced them with something else.
"It is very dangerous as evidenced by the immediate reactions that were seeing," said APD Commander Chris Mcilvain.
Police said preliminary tests show this batch is laced with five illegal chemicals. They interviewed the users at the hospital and also reviewed video of them from HALO cameras downtown near the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless.
"They would fall to the ground almost immediately, almost in a comatose state," Mcilvain said.
Detectives also identified the people selling it.
"We focused on the areas where the patients actually went down and were transported. So we backed up the footage to see what activity was going on prior to those EMS calls coming in."
They've seized four grams so far and expect there will be more. A man arrested this weekend tipped off police it could be part of a larger operation.
"He claims that it's all coming from Houston. They're making a lot of money in Houston and they saw this as an opportunity to expand their business," Mcilvain said.
"It's a toxin that we know how to deal with. It's unfortunate that we have to deal with it so much," said UMC Brackenridge Emergency Director Dr. Christopher Ziebell.
Ziebell remembers the last rash of cases six months ago when more than 40 people took K2 laced with PCP. Still he said this week's incident was worse.
"We have been seeing increasing amounts of K2 for six to eight months probably. I think this is our biggest incident so far," Ziebell said.
Patients come in with a range of symptoms, some unresponsive and others are combative and violent. Investigators said right now the cases are primarily downtown but worry it could eventually spread farther.
"This could have been a high school, this could have been anywhere. That's our biggest fear," Mcilvain said.
Learn more about K2 on the DEA website.