Former inmate says synthetic marijuana is behind inmates, staff falling ill at facility

Substance entering facility has been ongoing issue, Christopher Harris says

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – More than a dozen people fell ill in less than 24 hours last week at the Miami-Dade Pre-Trial Detention Center and authorities are still investigating how it all happened. 

"Throwing up, falling out, you know, having trouble breathing. It was just crazy. You know what I'm saying?" former inmate Christopher Harris told Local 10 News.  

Harris was in the jail the day inmates and staff members began feeling sick. He said he was supposed to be released in the morning, but the shutdown at the facility kept him stuck in place.

Authorities said an unknown substance at the facility caused some people to fall ill. 

"(It was) drugs called Y2K," Harris said. 

Harris said he's seen the substance going around the jail before. 

Also known as K2 or spice, it's synthetic marijuana -- a cocktail of chemicals used to get high.

It's known to make people sick and Harris claims it's an issue in the jail.

"People out there try to keep it on the hush, hush, but it comes in on a regular basis," Harris said.

After two separate scares hours apart from each other, Miami-Dade Corrections Department spokesman Juan Diasgranados said field testing was conducted, which showed "the substance was 'a basic organic compound' and not harmful or dangerous."

"These actions were precautionary in nature and a direct result of the importance we place on the safety of staff, inmates, and the public," he said in a statement last week. "Staff and inmates involved were treated and released. Normal operations have resumed at the Pre-Trial Detention Center with the exception of inmate visitation which remains canceled as the investigation is ongoing."

Several agencies are still investigating what made people so sick, what the source of it is and from where it originated.  

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