Flakka Becoming More Popular Than Cocaine in South Florida

By McCarton Ackerman 06/15/15

Twenty-seven people have died from flakka-related overdoses in Broward County alone.

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Despite, or perhaps because of, the recent reports of crazy, drug-induced behavior surrounding the use of flakka, its popularity is continuing to rise. A new report has found that because of its low cost and ease to obtain, flakka is outpacing cocaine in South Florida, in terms of popularity.

As local law enforcement officials continue to battle the boatloads of cocaine being shipped by drug traffickers in South America, they’ve missed the flakka arriving by mail from China. It was placed on the U.S. list of illegal controlled substances last year, but its popularity is continuing to rise due to the fact that a single dose can sell for as little as $5. Drug dealers can buy a kilo of flakka from online companies in China for $1,500 and then sell it on the street for as much as $50,000.

In Broward County, flakka accounted for 34% of their crime lab reports, compared to cocaine taking up 30% of them. Police departments are also trying to fight back against the crisis by training patrol units to look for signs of delirium, giving officers field detection kits, and employing sniffer dogs at mail facilities.

"We are ground central," said Robert C. Hutchinson, deputy special agent for Homeland Security Investigations in Miami. "We want to nip it in the bud before it gets out of control."

In the last eight months, 27 people have died from flakka-related overdoses in Broward County alone. The effects of the drug can be particularly long-lasting; first-time users may take three or four days to return to a normal mental state, while habitual users may need 14-16 days.

The delirium and super human strength associated with flakka use has also led to some extremely bizarre behavior. Last month in the town of Melbourne, a 17-year-old girl was arrested by police after running down a street naked, covered in blood and screaming, “I am God! I am Satan!” Other instances throughout Florida include several attempted break-ins at police precincts and a man attacking an 86-year-old woman.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.