COLUMBIA, N.C. (WNCT) — Eight Tyrrell Prison Work Farm inmates have been arrested after the Sheriff’s Office said synthetic marijuana was being brought into the prison.

All the inmates were charged with felony possession of controlled substance on prison premises as part of an investigation the Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office dubbed Operation Suitcase.

In the last several months, the Sheriff’s Office said EMS responded to the prison for possible drug overdoses by inmates. Officials believed the overdoses were a result of the use of K-2.

K-2, or spice, is dried plant material and chopped up herbs in a mixture of colors and synthetic chemicals ( cannabinoids ) the Sheriff’s Office said can be 100 times stronger than the THC found in marijuana.

Side effects of K-2 include high blood pressure, blurred vision, heart attack, vomiting, seizures, hallucinations and severe anxiety and paranoia.

The investigation is ongoing.

The arrests were made in a joint investigation by  Department of Public Safety officials at Tyrrell Prison Work Farm and the Tyrrell County Sheriff’s Office.

Those charged were:

  • Billy G. Barringer 44, charged with possession of 8.5 grams of K-2 Synthetic Cannabinoids.
  • Antonio L. Carr  29, charged with possession of 1.9 grams of marijuana.
  • Dennis R. Oxendine 40 charged with possession of .1 gram of K-2 Synthetic Cannabinoids.
  • Devarius A. Allgood 28, charged with possession of  .1 gram marijuana.
  • Lance C. Allen 27, charged with possession of.2 grams marijuana.
  • Melvin A. McDonald 30, charged with .5 grams of K-2 Synthetic Cannabinoids.
  • Marcus A. Small 27, charged with possession of less than ½ ounce marijuana.
  • Michael R. Parrish 28, charged with possession of Suboxone.