Jake, a Brevard County Sheriff's Office K-9, who was checking for the presence of drugs during the boarding of the Norwegian Epic Holy Ship!, an annual electronic dance music festival cruise, nearly suffered an overdose.
The dog, who notified his handler, Deputy Scott Stewart, after detecting the drugs on a passenger, quickly became ill. "(The dog) started having some problems with balance and had some type of seizure incident of some sort, was showing effects of having inhaled some substance," said Tod Goodyear, a Sheriff's Office spokesperson. "They administered the Narcan and got (the dog) to the vet as quick as they could."
Investigators then took Leslie Bennett, 33, to a screening area, where they found a small bag of pills hidden in his underwear. The pills tested positive for ecstasy and amphetamine. "I know that Narcan is generally for opiates and ecstasy would be an amphetamine, so I don't know if it would be of any assistance to the K-9 at all," Goodyear said.
Ecstasy has both stimulant and hallucinogenic effects, which enhance tactile sensations and produce feelings of increased energy and euphoria. An ecstasy overdose results from an excess of these symptoms, which can lead to renal failure and cardiac arrhythmias. Other symptoms of an overdose include hyperthermia, very high blood pressure, fainting spells, loss of consciousness, seizures and panic attacks.
Narcan, the brand name for Naloxone, is a medication used to block the effects of opioids during an overdose. Naloxone can also be combined with an opioid to decrease the risk of opioid abuse. According to Robert MacLean, with the US Marshals Office, the Narcan was supplied by one of the ship’s crew members. Federal agents at Port Canaveral do not carry Narcan, which can be problematic since they can also be exposed unwittingly to drugs.
Bennett, a Montana native, was immediately arrested on drug charges. He was one of a dozen passengers who were charged with drug possession while waiting in line to board the cruise. "The people who put on the cruise put out disclaimers that they will be checked (and) not to bring drugs," Goodyear said. "It falls on the passengers themselves (to not do so)."
The Sheriff's Office said last year's Holy Ship cruise resulted in almost two dozen arrests for drug possession. The ship, which is currently out at sea, will return to Port Canaveral on Saturday. Norwegian Cruise Line said it has a zero-tolerance policy for prohibited items.