A Message from Sheriff Scott Israel
FLAKKA: CHEAP HIGH, DANGEROUS CONSEQUENCES
In over 30 years of working in law enforcement, I have witnessed the serious harm drugs can do. I have seen the damage they can inflict on individuals, families and communities. The drugs change over time, but the outcomes are always the same.
Sadly, a new, very dangerous narcotic has gained a foothold in our communities. Flakka, a synthetic drug, has been showing up in incidents around South Florida. It is the same class of narcotic as bath salts, a drug that rose to national prominence in 2012 due to the intense and erratic behavior it caused the user. In one well known instance, a man using bath salts tried to chew off another man’s face. Flakka is more potent and addictive than its predecessor.
Flakka can make someone lose control of their thoughts. It causes hallucinations and what is being called excited delirium, giving the user an adrenaline rush and the belief that they have super human strength. Recently, a man under its influence streaked through traffic. Another man impaled himself on a 14-inch spike trying to scale the wrought-iron fence outside the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
The drug, nicknamed “gravel” due to its granular texture, can be injected, snorted, smoked or swallowed, and its use can be fatal. Once an individual using flakka is restrained, they need immediate medical attention or they could die. The body temperature of someone who ingests flakka will often rise, sometimes over 105 degrees, because their muscle tissues melt and pollute the bloodstream. This can quickly lead to organ failure. Most dangerous about this new drug is that no one knows what’s really in it. The users, ignorant to the strength or substance of what they are taking, are guinea pigs.
Our crime lab has seen a 45% increase in flakka cases so far in 2015, compared to all of 2014. As a result, the Broward Sheriff’s Office is working to become better prepared and more aware to combat it in the communities we serve. Sergeants from every district in BSO have received special training to identify and handle suspects alleged to be under the influence of the drug. We are also working with local and federal agencies to share vital information about flakka. Last month, we began holding trainings and community forums for the public to increase knowledge and awareness about the drug. I am confident that the men and women of BSO and our community will work together to confront this challenge and prevent countless individuals from falling victim to this extremely dangerous drug.
We have set up an information hotline at 954-375-6237 for questions about the use, abuse or treatment of flakka. If your community or group would like someone to speak about flakka, call 954-321-5076.
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