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2 Investigators: New Designer Drug, 'Flakka,' Makes Users Lose Their Minds

(CBS) – The latest "designer" drug, "Flakka," causes hallucinations, psychotic episodes and violence, users says.

The drug, also called "Gravel," has hit the Chicagoland area. It has been popular in Florida, Ohio and Texas and has caused as many as 20 hospitalizations per day and nearly a dozen deaths.

CBS 2's Dave Savini reports.

Flakka is targeted to young people with its cheap high, which costs just $3 to $5.  But this drug can cause a person to lose their mind and become dangerous.

A naked man was caught running through the streets of Florida. Users can suffer extremely high body temperatures, 105-107 degrees, and hallucinations.

Melissa Haney's 24 year old stepson Mike Haney, from New Lenox, unknowingly took Flakka then experienced a psychotic episode, blacking out and also running around the neighborhood naked.

"He has no recollection of what he did while on Flakka," Melissa Haney says.

Says her stepson: "I went to jail, and I don't remember anything until my third day in jail. I was completely out of my mind."

Mike Haney says dealers often give Flakka free to first-time users, just to get them hooked.  It is similar to other synthetic drugs like bath salts and can make a person violent and falsely feel invincible.

"I started getting very violent and vulgar," Mike Haney says.

While on Flakka, Florida police say a man caught on camera trying to break into a police station was hallucinating cars were chasing him.  In another case, police say a man tried to scale a fence but was impaled on the spikes instead.

Dennis Wichern, special agent in charge of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Chicago field division, says this drug is linked to at least 10 deaths and also is being cut with rat poison and insecticides. It's sold online.

"It's part stimulant like meth or amphetamine, part hallucinogenic like MDMA, and it has the ability to have a little bit of attributes like PCP," Wichern says. "It's causing big issues for us."

So big, in fact, the DEA put it on an emergency list last year, making Flakka illegal. The drug is mainly coming from China and is being seized at O'Hare International Airport, says Ralph Piccirilli with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

He showed CBS 2 the Flakka seized in Chicago in just the last three days. It comes in different colors and often is shipped hidden inside pool filter boxes.

"It's absolutely deadly," Piccirilli says of the drug.

"I could have killed somebody," Mike Haney says. "I could have killed myself. I have no recollection of anything. It was the scariest thing I'd ever been through."

Recently, in DuPage County, the DEA was involved in a bust that included Flakka. Between drug busts and seizures and warning people about the dangers, federal agents hope to stop the flow of the drug.

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