(CAMDEN, N.J.) — Authorities in New Jersey are cracking down on PCP, a hallucinogenic drug that has been involved in two grisly murders of children in less than two weeks in the crime-ridden city of Camden, N.J.
The Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and the Camden Police Department say they are “concerned” with the use of the drug in the city and are “taking steps to curb the market for this exceedingly dangerous and destructive drug.”
“Violent behavior with PCP, that’s nothing new,” Police Chief Scott Thomson said. “It’s happening on a daily basis in Philadelphia and urban centers all over the country. But what has us concerned is the attacks on small children…Is something being added [to the PCP]?”
Authorities have seized batches of the drug for analysis and are implementing a $500 reward program for anyone who can provide information about the sale of the drug that leads to an arrest.
The crackdown on PCP came after a pair of horrifying murders, which police say involved the drug PCP.
Osvaldo Rivera, 31, told police that he smoked “wet,” a combination of PCP and pot, before he allegedly slit the throats of a 6-year-old boy and his 12-year-old sister in the middle of the night in their Camden home on Sept. 2.
Police believe the attack started as a sexual assault on the 12-year-old girl and turned into a murder when the girl’s 6-year-old brother tried to intervene. Rivera allegedly killed the young boy and his sister was able to escape and get help with her own throat slashed. After fighting for her life, she is now in stable condition in the hospital.
Rivera has been charged with murder and attempted murder. He sobbed throughout his first court appearance on Tuesday and prosecutors said he asked investigators during an interview, “How bad did I hurt them?”
On Aug. 22, authorities believe Chevonne Thomas was smoking wet before beheading her 2-year-old son Zahree in Camden.
Thomas had a history of substance abuse and mental health disorders, according to the Department of Children and Families.
She admitted that she killed her son to a 911 dispatcher moments before she stabbed herself to death.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ralph Ellis, CNN
Sandra Gonzalez, CNN
Frank Pallotta, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN