The Slatest

Five West Point Cadets Overdose on Fentanyl-Laced Cocaine While on Spring Break in Florida

West Point graduates watch as Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III speaks during the 2021 West Point Commencement Ceremony on May 22, 2021 in West Point, New York.
West Point graduates watch as Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III speaks during the 2021 West Point Commencement Ceremony on May 22, 2021 in West Point, New York. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

A group of five West Point cadets were among six young men who overdosed on what officials believe to have been cocaine laced with the opioid fentanyl while on spring break in South Florida. Police arrived at a rental home in Wilton Manors, Fla. on Thursday and found two men performing CPR on two other men who were unconscious on the lawn. Two other men were unconscious inside the house. Although the two men who were performing CPR didn’t consume the substance they went into respiratory arrest because they were exposed to it when they were performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

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Although initial reports said six West Point cadets were involved in the incident, a Military Academy spokeswoman said four cadets, including one football player, were taken to the hospital. A fifth cadet, who was also a football player, was not hospitalized. The sixth man involved in the incident is not a cadet. Officials have said that two of the men were in critical condition and intubated in intensive care units while one man remained in stable condition. The three other men have been released from the hospital. No names have been released.

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Officials expressed concern over the timing of the overdoses and what it could mean for the rest of the spring break season, which lasts into April. “This is extremely alarming to us, here we are in the first week of spring break and we have something like this taking place,” Steve Gollan, battalion chief of Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue, said. “It’s rather alarming that this substance could be out there and that literally one use can put you into cardiac arrest,” he added. Gollan said these overdoses come at a time when there has been a sharp increase in these types of cases. “Since the beginning of the pandemic we’ve seen a tremendous increase in overdoses similar to this one,” he said. “And those are the individuals who someone is there to call 911 to get them help. How many deaths are there where they do it by themselves, and there’s nobody around to call, and they’re just found deceased?”

One person has been arrested in connection to the overdoses. Axel Giovany Casseus, 21, was charged with trafficking cocaine of less than 200 grams and burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, according to court records. “This incident serves as a stark reminder to all, especially those visiting for Spring Break, of the deadly impacts of Fentanyl,” the Wilton Manors police said in a statement.

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