Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Carmel on the Case: Taking Out the Trash
We all know police fight crime, but Miami-Dade officers are also fighting trash. Well, actually, they are fighting the people who dump the trash illegally. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is On The Case with an inside look at this dirty crime.
WSVN -- You're watching a police takedown. But this isn't a drug bust. It's a dumping bust.
It's happening around the clock in Miami-Dade County. From the farm fields in the South to ranch land in the North, people are dumping everything from furniture to roof tiles.
Harrison Crenshaw: "This would cost at least $1,000 to have properly disposed of, but now that it's illegally dumped, it's going to cost taxpayers at least triple that amount to have removed and properly disposed of."
Police caught this person on tape when he tried to leave his vessel on public property.
The same is true of this guy, here on his way to jail. He was caught dumping debris from his pick up.
Then there are these two men from Miami. They are accused of dumping this boat and picking it up when a car came by. But police still charged them with violating the litter law.
Carmel Cafiero: "Why did you do this tonight?"
Juan Paret: "I don't know."
What we do know is that it would have cost less than $100 to dump the boat legally. Now they'll pay much, much more.
Detective Kenneth Hendon: "So, not only will they pay the fines, but they'll also pay for the overtime work that we did tonight working on this case."
Plus, convicted dumpers have to do community service work picking up somebody's else's trash.
Justo Castro: "I have not gotten a repeat offender as of yet. I've been running the program for the last three years."
And police are not just dealing with commercial debris dumped in the boondocks. Here's a pile next to brand new homes.
Detective Joey Giordano: "This isn't the most glamorous part of police work. But we're an illegal dumping unit, and sometimes we have to get dirty to find out who put this garbage here."
And when the sun goes down, the officers of the illegal dumping squad don't knock off for the day. They go undercover.
They sit in cars for hours in known dumping hot spots, sometimes even hiding in the bushes.
Roofer Michael Guccione and his employee, Carl Wilder, were caught after they dumped parts of a roof they spent all day taking off. It seemed only fitting police made them spend much of the night picking it up again.
Carmel Cafiero: "Why did you do this?"
Michael Guccione: "Because I was heading back home to Melbourne, and I didn't want to carry the load with me. I saw a bunch of other people that dumped here, so I thought it was status quo."
That kind of attitude ends up being expensive. Last year the county picked up more than 3,000 tons of illegally dumped debris at a cost of nearly $2.5 million.
Carmel Cafiero: "How would you feel if I dumped this in your backyard?"
Michael Guccione: "I wouldn't like it."
And neither do we.
IF YOU HAVE A STORY FOR CARMEL:
Call her in Miami-Dade at: 305-627-CLUE
Or in Broward at: 954-921-CLUE