Two former Wesleyan University students, one from Maryland and the other from Brazil, have been arrested on federal charges in a spate of overdoses on what they believed was "Molly" earlier this year, federal prosecutors said on Friday.
The drug actually contained "Spice" or "K2," U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly announced during a news conference on Friday morning and Zachary Kramer, 21, of Bethesda, Maryland, and Eric Lonergan, 22, of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, are due in court in New Haven to answer to several drug charges.
Eleven people, including 10 Wesleyan students became ill, and some were hospitalized one weekend in late February after taking a drug that was presented as Molly, a popular name for the euphoria-inducing stimulant MDMA. Two of the students were in critical condition, including one who had to be revived when his heart stopped beating.
Each of the students obtained what they thought was "Molly" from people who got it from Kramer, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
On Friday morning, federal officials said this was not the first time the students became sick after buying synthetic drugs. The symptoms reported were similar to symptom students reported in September after taking drugs from the students, officials said.
After the February overdoses, one student presented Middletown police with a capsule she had bought from Lonergan in September. Test results showed it did not contain "Molly" and instead contained "Spice" or "K2," according to Daly.
"Our hope is that this prosecution puts to bed the misperception that synthetic drugs are harmless party drugs," Daly said in a statement Friday. "As the allegations in this indictment clearly show, these drugs are highly dangerous. Many of the Wesleyan students who overdosed were seriously ill and one student nearly died. The growth and evolution of synthetic drugs is a serious public health concern."
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Lonergan and Kramer are accused of distributing the controlled substances that caused the overdoses.
"Wesleyan remains deeply concerned about the events that occurred this past February as well as the broader problem of drug abuse. All of the students arrested in the February incident were promptly expelled from the University," a spokesperson for Wesleyan said in a statement Friday. "The University has fully and comprehensively cooperated with local, State and Federal authorities at each step of their investigation and it will continue to do so."
In November 2013, Lonergan started buying Molly and selling it to students from his dorm for around $200 per gram between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. most evenings, and counseling students on how to use it, according to the U.S. Attorney's office.
Officials started receiving calls for medical help from the Butterfield and Foss Hill dorms, as well as 200 High Street at 7:30 a.m., 8:21 a.m., 12:26 p.m., 1:21 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 22, according to Middletown Fire Battalion Chief David Anderson said.
After school administrators sent out a campus-wide communication warning of the dangers of ingesting controlled substances like Molly, Lonergan responded by distributing a pamphlet instructing students on the use of psychedelic drugs, federal officials said.
Kramer is accused of beginning to buy Molly from Lonergan and selling it to students at Wesleyan in 2014.
In early 2015, Kramer took over for Lonergan as the primary supplier of what he claimed to be "Molly," a Wesleyan and sold it to friends to sell, Daly said.
Several students were transported to Middlesex Hospital. LifeStar then transported two students to Hartford Hospital and an ambulance transported two more, according to police. Two of the four students were listed in critical condition, and two others were listed in serious condition.
Lonergan and Kramer, along with three other Wesleyan students, were arrested earlier this year on local charges in connection with the case.
Kramer and Lonergan have been charged with conspiring to distribute and possess with intent to distribute MDMA and AB Fubinaca. They are also charged with attempting to distribute MDMA and distributing AB Fubinaca, as well as distributing MDMA near a private college.
Both appeared in court Friday. Lonergan was held on $250,000 cash bond and is inn custody at his mother's house in Washington, D.C.
Kramer's bond was set at $250,000. He's in custody at his parents' house in Maryland and has been ordered to have no contact with the victims, witnesses or other defendants in the case.
Lonergan and Kramer are due back in federal court in Hartford the morning of July 7.