Amid growing worries about public safety among downtown residents, the Dallas Police Department said Wednesday afternoon that it made its first two felony arrests for the distribution of K2 — the synthetic drug that's been blamed for more than 200 calls to paramedics and police downtown since the beginning of December. Martin Zamora and Dominique Harrell were picked up Tuesday night on Elm Street, Narcotics division Commander Vernon Hale said Wednesday, and have been charged with distribution of a controlled substance. Both men are being held on $100,000 bond.
The arrests were possible thanks to a newly effective Texas law that added multiple new chemical structures to state laws that banned the sale of K2. Before the changes, K2 manufactures could simply change their formulas and not be subject to state prosecution. Occasionally, the feds would take over, as they did when they raided several Gas Pipe locations in 2014, but it was essentially impossible to make a state case against K2 dealers before the 2015 Texas Controlled Substances Act went into effect. DPD believes Harrell and Zamora are the first two people arrested for K2 distribution in Dallas County.
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According to Hale, DPD worked with DART and El Centro police officers to "identify some of the primary dealers who appeared to be targeting the youth and transient populations in the downtown area." The dangers of any particular batch of K2, Hale said, depend on the mixture of chemicals that happen to be dumped into wherever it is getting made. Effects of the drug are usually short term, police say, but severe.
The arrests follow a Downtown Dallas Inc.-hosted public safety meeting on Monday that saw local residents angry with DPD over a perceived lack of attention from the department being paid to panhandling, K2 use and muggings happening downtown. The group's CEO, John Crawford, called the arrests a positive first step in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon.
"This is an enormous step forward and we're pleased to see the urgency and seriousness with which the Dallas Police Department is taking the K2 issue. We hope the arrests today are indicative of further progress. This has been an issue making a visible impact on the downtown community, and we thank DPD for their work," Crawford said.