Monday, August 31, 2009
7 News Investigations: Pill Mills Follow Up
Florida has passed a new law to keep track of prescription pain pills, but that law doesn't take effect until January. In the meantime, police are trying to stop the sale of addictive prescription drugs on the streets of South Florida and investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero caught it all on camera.
WSVN -- It is a Tuesday afternoon in Pembroke Pines. These men in a car from Kentucky have just filled prescriptions at a local pharmacy, they do not wait to start using what appears to be pain pills.
They crush some of the pills in dollar bills and then snort them. In the front seat, the driver leans forward to snort crushed pills while the passenger pulls out three syringes. He combines water and crushed up pills and spends the next several minutes shooting up. He uses both of his arms and did it over and over and over again. All this in a public parking lot just steps away from the pharmacy's front door.
Carmel Cafiero: "We have pictures of you in the car here."
When they later stopped at a convenience store i tried to talk with them.
Passenger: "Say what?"
Carmel Cafiero: "We have pictures of you."
Carmel Cafiero: "Shooting up."
Passenger: "No you don't."
Carmel Cafiero: "Yeah, I'm sorry we do. So all of you are here from Kentucky for what, to buy pills and then bring them back home?"
Carmel Cafiero: "All of you."
Driver: "I'm here to get a pop."
Their license plate is from Bourbon County, Kentucky. That's more than 1,000 miles away from this Boca Raton pain clinic where we first saw the men. They then drove another 45 miles to Pembroke Pines.
This is the kind of activity law enforcement hopes a new prescription drug tracking law will prevent, but it hasn't taken effect yet.
Sheriff Al Lamberti: "It's a technology issue. It's a funding issue, but again just getting the legislation on the books is a great first step."
Florida has become a haven for pill mills that give out highly addictive pain pills like candy and make a lot of money. Much of the business comes from out of towners who can't get pills in their home states.
Det. Henry Lopez: "So people come here all the time because there's no record being kept right now."
But prescription pill abuse is also a local problem. Abusers often get prescriptions filled and then sell some of the pills on the street.
Det. Henry Lopez: "All right, it looks like they're still talking."
BSO deputies routinely make undercover buys and busts, that's something Michael Verderbar learned the hard way.
Det. Henry Lopez: "Let me see your hands. Let me see your hands. Put them up. Put your hands up."
He ended up with a gun in his face after an undercover deputy says Verderbar offered to sell him pain pills.
Det. Brann Redl: "He stated that he would sell me 30 mg Roxycodone for $10 each."
And that earned Verderber a felony arrest.
Michael Verderber: "I have a neck problem, a very bad neck problem."
Carmel: "Now, you've got other big problems huh?"
Michael Verderber: "I have very big problems."
Carmel: "Why did you sell it today?"
Michael Verderber: "Because I can't work."
Here's how bad it is on the streets of South Florida.
Det. Henry Lopez: "You're under arrest right now for delivery of Oxycontin.
Wlater Rodriguez: "I'm under arrest?"
Det. Henry Lopez: "Yes, you're under arrest."
This bust took place after a detective says he was approached at a convenience store.
Det. Brann Redl: "And I just stopped off to get a soda and that's how quick the deal went."
Carmel Cafiero: "It tells you how much is going on doesn't it?"
Det. Brann Redl: "Oh yeah, they're all over, all over Broward County right now the pills. It's phenomenal right now, night."
In January, pain clinics will have to register with the state and face regulation. Detectives say it can't happen soon enough.