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Flakka: The New King on the Florida Drug Scene

Over the past few months, Florida authorities have been increasingly concerned with “flakka,” a cheap, synthetic drug trend spreading throughout Florida. News reports and police have been captivated by the bizarre and paranoid behavior linked with use of the drug. In Fort Lauderdale, one man told police he was the mythical god Thor while two other men high on flakka tried to break into the Fort Lauderdale police department. Another man in Lake Worth announced that he felt delusion and was hallucinating while standing naked on a rooftop and armed with a gun after vaping flakka with an e-cigarette. The common link in each of these incidents was flakka.

According to an article published by Reuters, flakka has dethroned cocaine as the drug of choice in Florida. Flakka, also known as “gravel” due to its rock-like appearance, has surged in popularity since it first appeared in Florida in 2013. Sold in doses for as little as $5 or less, flakka can be snorted, injected, smoked, or swallowed. The active ingredient in flakka is a chemical compound called alpha-PVP and is often manufactured overseas in countries like China and Pakistan. Flakka can cause users to hallucinate, have suicidal thoughts, and make users increasing violent. Symptoms associated with flakka include chest pains, increased body temperatures, irregular heartbeats, increased blood pressure, and seizures. According to drug treatment professionals, it can take multiple days for users to return to a normal state of mind. For example, last month, a 17-year-old girl from Melbourne was arrested running naked down the street, screaming “I am god! I am Satan!” while covered in blood.

A main issue for authorities dealing with flakka is the fact that the drug is not illegal in China. Chinese companies have heavily advertised the drug online and shipped large quantities of the drug to purchasers in the U.S. through the mail. Similar to ecstasy or MDMA, the drug was classified by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a controlled substance in 2014. Although the drug has been identified in Ohio, Houston, and Chicago, it has been most prominent in South Florida. For example, authorities in Broward County, which includes Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, reported 190 flakka-related incidents for all of 2014. By early May this year, over 275 flakka incidents have already been recorded. Recently, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a warning to Florida parents about the dangers of flakka now that schools have closed for the summer.

The rise in popularity has caused police departments to change their tactics by training officers to look for signs of delirium and to use drug detection dogs at mail facilities. In a recent DEA case, an undercover agent posed as a delivery man and delivered intercepted packages of flakka made in Hong Kong to a Palm Beach County home. Upon receipt, the defendant was charged with conspiracy to distribute flakka. As the drug has become more prominent, Florida authorities have increased efforts to address the drug head on and nip it in the bud.

Contact a Drug Offense Attorney Today

The use of synthetic drugs such as flakka is illegal in the U.S. The penalties for drug offenses in the state of Florida vary depending on the severity of the offense. Additionally, harsher penalties may be issued based on where they took place or if it’s a repeat offense. The drug offense attorneys at Roman & Roman are experienced with defending all types of drug offenses in Florida. If you or someone you know has been charged with a drug crime in Florida, contact us for a free and confidential case evaluation to consider your options and develop a strategy to get the best possible resolution for you.

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