Year of Flakka: Ten Memorable Tales From Broward County in 2015

Year of Flakka: Ten Memorable Tales From Broward County in 2015
Courtesy of Jim Hall/Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health Disparities at Nova Southeastern University

Data pinpoints Broward County as the epicenter of Alpha-PVP use, a designer drug imported from China. Unlike bath salts and ectsasy, this synthetic drug, more commonly known as flakka, sells on the street for only $5. Its side effects — agitation, paranoia, delusions — are a dangerous combination that have been linked to a string of strange occurrences. 

And these occurrences skyrocketed in Broward this year. In 2013, the Broward Sheriff’s Office tells New Times that its crime lab did not run across any flakka cases. The following year it processed more than 190. In 2015, the number of flakka cases soared exponentially: 1,415 cases from January 1 to December 24, 2015.

And indeed, 2015 was a bizarre year for Broward. It seemed that every week someone was making headlines for ripping off their clothes and running down the street. Some people were paranoid. Others exhibited superhuman strength. No one seemed in the right state of mind. 2015 was Year of the Flakka in Broward County, and these are the most memorable flakka tales of 2015:

Year of Flakka: Ten Memorable Tales From Broward County in 2015 (2)
via Florida arrests

10. Rhonda Sanchez, Broward's first flakka fatality of 2015
Rhonda Sanchez died on January 30, 2015, in her Deerfield Beach apartment. Her death was ruled an accidental overdose. The 54-year-old was found with flakka in her system, along with cocaine, amphetamine, painkillers, and alcohol. Sanchez's death and more than 40 others have been linked to flakka use. 

9. Man on flakka tries to break into Fort Lauderdale Police station for safety
In February, surveillance footage captured a man aggressively trying to break into the Fort Lauderdale police station. James West kicked on the doors as hard as he could and then hurled rocks at the door. West claimed he was being chased by several cars down Broward Boulevard. He was arrested shortly after in the parking lot. 

8. Flakka user impaled on Fort Lauderdale Police Department fence
In March, a man told police officers he was on flakka. Then he proceeded to climb the ten-foot electronic rolling gate around the police station. He fell onto one of the spikes atop the gate, piercing through his crotch and butt. It was the second time in two months that a flakka event had happened at the police station. 

7. Broward Boulevard streaker high on flakka
In April, 34-year-old Matthew Kenney was ofound running naked on Broward Boulevard at a busy intersection. He was hospitalized after telling a Fort Lauderdale Police officer that people stole his clothes and were trying to kill him. He also mentioned this happened after he smoked flakka. 

 

6. Man believed to be on flakka strips and shouts about Jesus 
In June, Kurtis Schlecher was walking his dog when he came across a strange sight: a naked man kneeling and shouting toward the sky about Jesus. It's unclear if flakka was the cause for the strange rant, but Schlechler claims the man said that "flakka is not that bad" just before he began his incoherent rambling.

5. Flakka-toting woman calls police to report a drug rip-off
Nineteen-year-old Daneshia Heller called police in June to report a drug deal gone awry. She told a 911 operator that she gave a man $5 for marijuana but was not given any product in return: "He got my money, and I want my drugs. Can you send an officer?" she said. When an officer arrived, Heller was found with flakka in her pocket and arrested. Go figure. 

4. Residents march in memory of those whose deaths have been linked to flakka
On June 18, more than 100 community members marched from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department to the Fort Lauderdale bus depot. They held signs to warn residents of the harmful effects of flakka. They did so in memory of those addicted to or who have died from flakka. 

3. First flakka baby dies an hour after birth
On July 3, a baby boy was born nine weeks premature at an apartment in Fort Lauderdale. The three-pound infant died an hour later. An autopsy found flakka in the baby's bloodstream, heart, and umbilical cord. The infant's grandmother said her 34-year-old daughter frequently smokes flakka.

2. MTV casts for show True Life: I'm Addicted to Flakka
This summer, MTV made headlines for a casting call for flakka users between 18 and 26 for an upcoming documentary. "If you are addicted to flakka or trying to recover, we want to talk to you," the site stated. MTV has been criticized in the past for glamourizing addiction.

1. Man tries to run over police officer with car
In October, 36-year-old Sheldon Adderley drove his car in circles at a barricaded area in downtown Fort Lauderdale. A police officer is seen on video jumping out of the car's trajectory multiple times as it almost runs him over. He then shoots out the tires. It's unclear if Adderley was on flakka, but video of the event is titled: "Flakka incident."


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