Monday, September 21, 2009
7 News Investigations: Pill Mills
The U.S. Drug Czar in South Florida to find out more about our drug abuse problems. In Broward County, the main issue was prescription pain pills, and a Seven News investigation was used to illustrate the issue. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero with the story.
WSVN -- Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske is no stranger to Florida. He's been a police chief in Port St. Lucie and St. Petersburg before being appointed director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Joel Kaufman: "And I want to especially welcome Director Kerlikowske."
He came to the Broward Office of the United Way to meet with members of the commission on substance abuse, which played a key role in getting a recent law passed to track prescription drug sales in Florida.
Paul Daly: "His presence here will allow that information to be spread throughout the United States for the benefit of the whole country, and hopefully we're a little bit of a pilot program for him."
The stop is part of a national tour of listening sessions aimed at developing a national strategy for dealing with drug abuse problems.
Gil Kerlikowske: "So your help and your advice is most important."
Commission members made it clear pain pill abuse is still a big problem here. Even the court system is being impacted by the arrest of out of state suspects.
Judge Gisele Pollack: "And we're using our resources that should be going to our residents to either treat or jail for the most part traffickers."
To illustrate how bad things are on the streets of South Florida, the commission showed Kerlikowske Channel Seven's most recent story.
In that report, we showed men in a car from Kentucky snorting and shooting up pills they had just bought from a nearby pharmacy. It turns out, the director has also seen our first report.
Gil Kerlikowske: "On the internet a few months ago when I was first looking at the issue here."
That story aired last November. For the first time it showed the huge business South Florida pill mills have become and how people are coming here from out of state to get prescription pain pills. Kerlikowske says friends in law enforcement in South Florida told him to watch the report on the internet.
Gil Kerlikowske: "They said 'Oh no, you have to see this piece.'"
Carmel Cafiero: "No kidding, well that's great to hear. You know a reporter loves to hear something like that. Well thank you very much."
Carmel Cafiero: "So what will you take back to the President do you think of what you saw here.
Gil Kerlikowske: "Well certainly as we put together the President's drug strategy, its important to understand the perspective of what's going on in local communities."
Carmel Cafiero: "And while the Florida perspective shows hope with passage of the new drug monitoring law, it hasn't taken effect yet. So for now, it's business as usual at the pill mills."