It is difficult to imagine an illegal narcotic in South Florida that can have a more powerful impact than crack cocaine, yet the new designer drug flakka has hit the streets with a vengeance. First recognized as an "epidemic" in mid-2014, Homeland Security already has a drug enforcement unit specifically devoted to it and United Way of Broward County has set up a multi-agency task force to address the health and chemical dependency problems it has caused individuals and families.
There have been more than 60 deaths in South Florida and Central Florida attributed to the drug and hospital emergency rooms are beginning to see frequent patients reporting vital signs that are dangerously out of the normal range. Beyond the deaths and physical health problems that can result from a single dose, the narcotic is powerfully addictive. So powerful, in fact, that the director of JC Recovery House, in Hollywood, Florida, says that more than 20 percent of the treatment slots are taken by flakka addicts, with many more turned away because of the low recovery rate among users.
Where Does It Come From?
In its basic form, flakka was orinally marketed as a bath salt, legally imported from China and sold over-the-counter. However many of the bath salt products contain Alpha-PVP, a controlled substance under federal and state law, which can result in a felony conviction.
According to the Special Agent Robert Hutchinson of the Homeland Security investigative unit in Miami, flakka is most commonly produced in China and dumped on the U.S. market using commercial shipping companies. It is easily obtained on the streets throughout South Florida and Central Florida at a cost that is far lower than many other controlled substances, with reports being as low as $5 per dose.
Initially, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and local police in Florida concentrated their enforcement on street dealers. Because of the increased acts of violence by users suffering the side effect of extreme paranoia, however, police have recently stepped up enforcement and arrests for individual possession.
The trouble is, many people possessing flakka are not even aware they are committing a crime when they buy the product from a legal retail outlet. In order to get a conviction, the government must prove that the person in possession was aware that the product was a controlled substance and must demonstrate criminal intent for use. People who are addicted to flakka need treatment for chemical dependency, not time in jail.
If you were arrested for possession of flakka and were not aware that you were committing a criminal offense, the government may not have a case against you. If you need experienced criminal defense help for possession or use of flakka in South Florida or Central Florida, talk to an experienced attorney at the Law Offices of Mark L. Horwitz in Orlando as soon as possible.