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Broward Sheriff Sharing Flakka Expertise


Deputies, EMTs and investigators from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office are fanning out across the state to teach their colleagues about the highly addictive street drug, “Flakka.” Florida law enforcement agencies are bracing for a wave of bizarre behavior and vicious crimes.

A 15-year veteran of the war on drugs, Broward County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Ozzy Tianga thought he had seen it all. Then, about 18 months ago, Chinese labs began flooding the local drug market with a strange white powder.

“We’re getting different batches that do different things. We’ll get a batch that elevates hospital stays. I know Broward Health, the four hospitals that they have, they’re seeing an average of 11 patients a day that are experiencing overdoses from Flakka.”

Some dealers try to pass Flakka off as the club drug, “Molly.” Flakka is actually a chemical cousin to bath salts. A 5 dollar hit gives a crystal meth-like high for up to four hours.  

Overdosing is easy and leads to “excited delirium.”  Temperatures soar as high as 107. Paranoid delusions flood the brain. Overheated victims tear off their clothes and flee in horror.

“A woman experiencing excited delirium covered herself in black tar from head to toe, all over her face, her body, she was completely naked and started walking down the street. So, you know, you can only imagine, once they get to the hospital, what do you do with a patient that’s covered in black tar?

That’s the kind of story Tianga and a team of his colleagues bring with them as they cross the state to share their experiences with other law enforcement.

Major Shawn Wood of the Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office scheduled one of the training sessions for September 9th at the Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy. Fllakka isn’t flooding the streets of Northwest Florida, so there’s still time circle the wagons, Wood says.

“It takes everyone. Like I said, as law enforcement you have only so many tools. And it’s not going to stop people just by incarcerating people that sell or possess it.”

So far, Wood says he’s signed up about 50 participants.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.