Broward News

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

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:

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. 

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Jess Swanson is a staff writer at New Times. Born and raised in Miami, she graduated from the University of Miami’s School of Communication and wrote briefly for the student newspaper until realizing her true calling: pissing off fraternity brothers by reporting about their parties on her crime blog. Especially gifted in jumping rope and solving Rubik’s cubes, she also holds the title for longest stint as an unpaid intern in New Times history. She left the Magic City for New York to earn her master’s degree from Columbia University School of Journalism, where she spent a year profiling circumcised men who were trying to regrow their foreskins for a story that ultimately won the John Horgan Award for Critical Science Journalism. Terrified by pizza rats and arctic temperatures, she quickly returned to her natural habitat.
Contact: Jess Swanson