WILTON MANORS, Fla. – Detectives announced late Friday night that they had arrested a suspect in connection to seven overdoses of fentanyl-laced cocaine at a home in Broward County.
He was identified Saturday morning as 21-year-old Axel Giovany Casseus.
The victims included West Point cadets, according to the U.S. Military Academy. Three still remained hospitalized on Friday — including two whose condition were critical.
Two of the cadets play on Army’s football team.
According to a Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy who appeared virtually during Casseus’ bond hearing Saturday, authorities identified the drug dealer that sold the drugs to the students and had him deliver 43 grams of cocaine Friday to an undercover detective, who followed him out to a hotel.
The detective paid $1,000 for the drugs, according to Casseus’ arrest report.
After they took him into custody, he admitted to being involved in a “transaction” in Wilton Manors, and authorities also found the phone he used to communicate with them, the deputy said.
According to the judge, Casseus was initially arrested on a charge of trafficking cocaine, as the cocaine the undercover detectives got from him was not laced with fentanyl, although the drugs from Wilton Manors were.
He is being held in jail in lieu of a $50,000 bond.
According to authorities, the group of college students on spring break from New York needed help shortly before 5 p.m. on Thursday, at a short-term rental, at 811 NW 29 Court in Wilton Manors.
Six were hospitalized first and a woman later in the day, according to the Fort Lauderdale Fire-Rescue Department.
Investigators said only four of the seven who suffered an overdose actually used the drug. Fort Lauderdale Fire Chief Stephen Gollan said the synthetic opioid is so potent that those who administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation also fell ill.
Hazardous materials investigators wore protection to deal with the substance. Fentanyl can cause respiratory distress and death when combined with alcohol or cocaine.
Just how powerful is Fentanyl? It is 50 times more potent than heroin.
Some students were later seen back at the home, leaving with bags and leaving trash behind.
As police continue their investigation, some neighbors say the short term rental property has been a nuisance.
“It’s just been a mess with everything -- the impact of the neighbors,” one man said.
Detectives with the Wilton Manors Police Department and the Broward Sheriff’s Office are working together on the investigation.
Gollan said the fire department is seeing overdue cases regularly.
Since the beginning of the year, Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue has answered 215 calls for overdoses on suspected opioids.
“It’s not that more people are doing drugs today, but it is much more dangerous to do drugs and that’s because of Fentanyl,” said Peter Canning of UConn Health.
With spring breakers flocking to South Florida, officials worry about an increase in dangerous activity.