AUSTIN (KXAN) — Arrest warrants have issued for 16 people in a crackdown on people accused of dealing illegal synthetic cannabinoid, K2. Officials say they are going to continue targeting dealers of the illegal drug that contains industrial chemicals.

The investigation began in December and the warrants were issued after lab confirmation of the drugs, according to the Austin Police Department.

Five of the 16 suspects are currently in custody.

PREVIOUSLY: Chinese K2 shipment intercepted before reaching Austin

While awaiting lab results, the APD Organized Crime Narcotics Team began investigating large-scale sales of the drug and were led to a suspect at a downtown hotel with ties to Houston —a known hub for K2, according to APD. Police also discovered a partner who they believed assisted in the distribution.

On June 25, members of the Narcotics Conspiracy Team set up surveillance and caught one of the suspects selling K2 “sticks,” which look like a regular marijuana cigarette, to multiple people in the downtown area.

Seized items during K2 bust by Austin police. (Image from Austin Police Department)

The suspect was detained and police found several bags of K2. Based on that evidence and previous investigations, detectives searched two hotel rooms where they seized even more large quantities of K2, untreated damiana leaf (the leaf upon which the intoxicant is sprayed), flavoring, packaging, mixing equipment, scales and shipping forms from China.

Police say the suspects were receiving large amounts of raw materials to manufacture, package and distribute in the Austin area.

What is K2?

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, K2 — also known as “Spice” — is a mixture of plant material sprayed with synthetic psychoactive chemicals. K2 often looks like potpourri.

Street names include: “Bliss,” “Black Mamba,” “Blaze,” “Legal Weed,” “Genie” and “Snax.” Due to the synthetic nature of the mix, it’s almost impossible to know what any particular batch may contain, according to the DEA.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: 29 K2 patients treated in 24 hours

Physical effects of K2 include:

  • Paranoia, anxiety, panic attacks and hallucinations
  • Addiction
  • Increase in heart rate and blood pressure
  • Convulsions, organ damage, and even death

If you have any information on any K2 cases, you’re asked to call APD Narcotics’ hotline (512) 974-8609.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said there had been 16 arrests, but only five of the 16 have been arrested so far.