Bizarre stories continue to swirl around the use of a new, little-understood synthetic drug known as “flakka.”

Patrick RempeIn a new incident out of Florida, at least the third of its kind, police say a resident of the Central Florida Atlantic Coast tried to break into a jail while high on the mysterious drug.

Patrick Rempe, 24, allegedly tried to drive his 2002 Toyota truck through the front doors of a complex at the Indian River County Jail in Vero Beach in December. He shattered the glass on the doors but failed to break them down, a spokesperson for the jail said. Rempe then allegedly sped away and tried to crash through a fence outside another building.

He then allegedly left his car, climbed the fence, and became tangled in razor wire that protects the jail’s inner perimeter. He was removed from the wire by Indian River County EMTs and treated for injuries.

Attempting to visit “friends” inside the jail

The sheriff’s office said Rempe told arresting deputies he was “high on flakka” at the time of the crime and was trying to visit “friends” inside the jail. He was taken to a local hospital and placed on psychiatric watch, the sheriff’s office said.

Prosecutors expect to file charges of aggravated assault on a law enforcement officer, battery of a law enforcement officer, criminal mischief, leaving the scene of an accident that caused property damage, and driving under the influence of drugs. At least three of the counts are felonies, and additional charges are possible.

“This is what drugs do to you,” said Sheriff Deryl Loar. “Flakka is poisoning our youth. Fortunately, none of our deputies were injured, and our facility wasn’t compromised.”

Flakka is dangerous and should be avoided

FlakkaFlakka is one of a number of increasingly popular “research chemicals.” These potent drugs are synthesized in laboratories, unlike most traditional drugs, which derive from natural sources: opium poppies, coca leaves, and cannabis plants, among others. Synthetic drugs are designed to create effects similar to those of marijuana and other popular natural drugs.

But research chemicals are known to be especially hazardous, often more so than the drugs they mimic. They can cause rapid heart beat, seizures, psychosis, and potentially death. DEA-proffered stories about flakka and other synthetics may be greatly overblown, but more neutral health experts agree it’s an extremely dangerous chemical that should not be consumed.

Flakka, known on the street as “gravel,” typically comes in a white or pink crystal form, similar to methamphetamines. These crystals can be snorted, eaten, vaporized, or injected. E-cigarettes are an especially popular delivery method.

Rempe’s alleged rampage marks at least the third episode in which a man high on flakka tried to break into a jail or police department. Two earlier incidents happened at the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. In one, a man became impaled on a fence and was cut down by city workers over several hours.

About the Author: Matt Brooks

Matt is a journalist from San Francisco who has specialized in marijuana policy for more than six years.

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