Substance sent to Washington D.C. jail that put 7 in hospital is synthetic cannabis not fentanyl

Virginia 0316208 Substance sent to DC jail that put 7 in hospital is synthetic cannabis not fentanyl

WASHINGTON — Seven people who work at the D.C. Department of Corrections were sent to the hospital after they were exposed to a suspicious substance initially thought to be fentanyl.

But D.C. Fire and EMS say that further lab tests now identify the substance as synthetic cannabis.

Sixteen employees fell ill when the letter was opened in the mailroom just before 11 a.m. Thursday at the Correctional Treatment Facility, on D Street in Southeast, said department spokeswoman Keena Blackmon.

Nine employees were treated on the scene and seven were transported. None have serious injuries, Blackmon said.

D.C. Fire and EMS confirms its hazmat team responded to the jail. Sources tell WTOP the letter initially tested positive for fentanyl. Fentanyl is 100 times more potent than morphine and can kill if it is touched or inhaled.

The D.C. police and the FBI are investigating where the letter came from.

Sources say it is still unclear whether the letter was addressed to a specific person, or whether anyone was targeted.

No inmates or visitors were affected, and Blackmon said all mail, as well as visitations and programs, are halted Thursday.

This story was updated Friday, March 16, 2018, to reflect new information.

WTOP’s Abigail Constantino contributed to this report.

Original post on WTOP