New, scary street drug called flakka or '$5 insanity' on rise in U.S.

SEATTLE -- A dangerous new drug is on the streets -- it is called flakka or gravel or "$5 insanity."  And there's a reason it has that last nickname.

The drug spikes a user's body temperature to dangerous levels, gives them paranoid hallucinations and makes them incredibly strong.

In one case, a man in Florida ran naked down the street and then tried to have sex with a tree before being arrested. He told cops he was Thor -- yes, the mythical god of thunder.

Another guy who thought he was being chased by dozens of cars used every ounce of strength to try to break into a police station.

And another was so terrified he climbed a security fence and impaled himself on the barbs.

They were all on a new drug called flakka.

"Flakka is a combination stimulant and hallucinogen so it's a cross between methamphetamine and PCP," said Doug James, the acting special agent in charge of the DEA office in Seattle.

And the drug is cheap, which is why it's called "$5 insanity."

"You are playing Russian Roulette when you take this drug," James said. "Absolutely destroys the human body."

He said flakka is a cousin to bath salts. It's cooked up in secret labs in China, Pakistan and India.

"Individuals who have utilized this drug have come back three days later and said, 'I had no idea what I was doing.'"

Flakka can be eaten, snorted, injected or vaporized in an e-cigarette.

"Literally, we have people walking down the streets, walking by police officers, using drugs and you don't even know it," said Pat Slack, commander of the Snohomish Regional Drug and Gang Task Force.

He said four cases of flakka have been sent to the Washington State Patrol Lab for testing.

He's worried about the technology that kids are using now to vaporize cheap heroin or meth, and he urged parents to talk to their children about the dangers of drug use.

"Have the conversation -- or you might not ever get the chance," Slack said, adding that flakka could kill users.

"You do not want to be taking this stuff. You're literally rolling the dice with your life when you take this stuff," he said.

Where are people buying this drug?

It's shipped into the United States through the mail and then either sold online or by street dealers.