Flakka’s Devastating Impact in South Florida

WSVN — Broward County is the epicenter of another deadly drug problem. This time it's related to Flakka, a dangerous drug that can cost users their minds and their lives. Investigative Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.

The drug Flakka can cause bizarre behaviors. We've seen people contorting their bodies apparently confused and in some cases hearing voices. This man seemed to be looking for imaginary things on the sidewalk and then there's this man, running naked on a Fort Lauderdale street back in April.

Experts say people on Flakka often strip naked because their body temperatures get so high they think they're on fire. But Flakka can also make a person violent. Something this user says he has seen first hand.

Flakka user: "I've been with people and one minute they're totally kosh and the next minute they're picking up like lead pipes and going crazy."

And the violence doesn't stop there.

Shane: "Scary because I've done many drugs and none of them ever had me want to commit suicide besides Flakka."

Shane, who asked we only use his first name, is in rehab. He got hooked on Flakka and says he was ready to kill himself.        

Carmel Cafiero: "What did you have set up?"

Shane: "A needle full of gasoline."

Carmel Cafiero: "A needle. You were going to shoot up gasoline?"

Shane: "Uh huh."

Carmel Cafiero: "And this is when you were at one of those lower than low points?"

Shane: "Yeah. 21 days awake."

Carmel Cafiero: "How do you stay awake 21 days?"

Shane: "You keep getting high and high."

Carmel Cafiero: "With Flakka."

Shane: "Yup."

Shane says a relative saved his life by calling right at the moment he was about to inject himself and offering to send him to rehab.

Dean: "It takes over your mind completely."

Dean is also in rehab and also asked we use only his first name. He says Flakka messed up his mind so badly he heard voices and saw people who were not there.   

Dean: "I've had my fair share of encounters with the shadow people."

Carmel Cafiero: "How scary is that?"

Dean: "It's … I don't even know how to describe that one. It's just, it's an experience I never want to have again."

Sheriff Scott Israel: "There's no drug that I've seen in my 36 years in law enforcement that even comes close to Flakka."

Sheriff Scott Israel is so concerned, he has teams of deputies going out in the community to warn parents and their children about Flakka.

Sgt. Ozzy Tianga: "There is not a city in Broward County that hasn't had a Flakka incident."

Sgt. Ozzy Tianga is part of that education effort and enforcement.

Sgt. Ozzy Tianga: "Our hospitals are flooded. I've been to the hospital and there's no beds for Flakka patients because they're almost quarantined because they're so unpredictable."

He recently busted these two Pompano Beach men in connection with the sale of Flakka and recovered this bag which tested positive for Alpha-PVP, the chemical name for Flakka. A little of the synthetic drug goes a long way since a normal dose is one tenth of one gram.

Sgt. Ozzy Tianga: "These large chunks here are dozens and dozens of hits."

But not everyone who uses Flakka does so on purpose. Dealers are tricking customers by claiming it's a less dangerous street drug.

Karen Corcoran-Walsh: "It is despicable. It's a dehumanizing drug and it's a dehumanizing act to trick people into taking something that ultimately will cost them their sanity, their health or their life."

And we've been told the highly addictive drug can be bought for as little as 70 cents a hit.              

Dean: "I've had a few drug dealers who would literally give stuff away for free because they know within an hour people would be back and they always came back."

Carmel Cafiero: "Authorities can only hope stories like this will help spread the word about just how deadly Flakka can be."

Carmel Cafiero, 7News.

IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL TO INVESTIGATE:

Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUE
Broward: 954-921-CLUE
E-mail: clue@wsvn.com
You can also send a tweet to @carmelonthecase.
      

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