NewsHillsborough County


Spice cut with rat poison gave man brain bleed, family says

Posted at 7:57 PM, Dec 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-16 23:15:00-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Those who loved Hector Rivera said he was joy personified.

"Making everybody laugh, putting a smile on everybody's faces. Being energetic, loving, caring, he was compassionate," said Hector's sister Mia Rivera.

But over the weekend, they say the world lost out on that joy.

"He had a headache, a severe headache. Stomach pain," said Hector's sister Alisha Murray. "We were notified within two hours, that's all we had with him."

They lost him to what he thought was just a really bad headache and body pain.


Rivera's family says he first developed the symptoms after smoking synthetic marijuana, or spice. He went to the hospital to be treated for pain but left not knowing that the drug he smoked, was poisoned. They say as the pain worsened at home, so he smoked it again to try and relieve it. But this time, he lost consciousness.

According to the Florida Poison Information Center, what Rivera and dozens of others were experiencing was the side effects of rat poison that was put in the batch of spice.

"It essentially led to a severe brain bleed, which became fatal for our brother," said Murray.

Rivera's sisters tell ABC Action News the spice he smoked was purchased at a shop near Ybor City.

"It's very sad because this drug can be purchased in a store. They can go into a store and it's illegal, but it's still sold in our stores," said Murray.

And now, they're begging anyone thinking about smoking the drug to stop, and asking those who have smoked it to get medical care immediately.

"If you know someone that has smoked the spice, this is a warning that you could potentially, this is fatal. And it was too late for our brother," said Murray.

The family also says that they will be donating money to a local drug addiction treatment program in Rivera's name.