WSVN — The year 2015 was busy for 7News investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero. From flakka to sovereign citizens and even decades-old sunken tires, Carmel was on the case.

Dubbed "five dollar insanity," the deadly synthetic drug flakka made headlines in 2015.

Lt. Ozzy Tianga: "These large chunks here are dozens and dozens of hits."

7News, out on the streets with BSO on the front lines of flakka.

Lt. Ozzy Tianga: "Our hospitals are flooded. I’ve been to the hospital and there’s no beds for flakka patients because they’re almost quarantined because they’re so unpredictable."

A drug problem of a different kind left patients like Shari, who’s had seven spine surgeries, struggling to relieve excruciating pain.

Shari: The first month I couldn’t get my medicine and I was going to 20 and 30 pharmacies a day– crying, begging, pleading–  couldn’t get it done.

Many patients described this so-called "pharmacy crawl" where prescriptions for powerful pain pills are repeatedly rejected. The battle over sober homes, a place where those in recovery live together, again loomed large in 2015. We found poor conditions at two homes owned by a now former Fort Lauderdale housing authority commissioner.

Maria Freeman: "Well we have been trying to take care of it. We’ve had the bathtub changed, replaced upstairs."

Carmel Cafiero: "What about the black mold here?"

Maria Freeman: "Honestly, this is the first time I have seen this particular black mold. It should not be there."

From Fort Lauderdale to Lauderhill, more officials in hot water. This time over home loans financed through the housing authority. In the wake of a 7News investigation, Broward’s inspector general said two high-ranking city employees violated state ethics law.  

Inspector General John Scott: "They got loans from the agency that they run, and that agency even now administers those loans. Florida law simply doesn’t allow that. It’s a clear conflict of interest."
No doubt this caught-on-camera confrontation was one of the more unusual things we saw this year.

Albert Diaco: "You go, get the hell out of my house!"

A man who responded to an online ad for a room-for-rent got an earful instead.

Albert Diaco: "You’re trying to kill me! You’re all trying to kill me! Everybody’s trying to kill me. I’ll kill all of you."

In 2015, sovereign citizens were active in South Florida. Those who subscribe to this movement don’t believe the law applies to them.

Carmel Cafiero: "Do you have a driver’s license?"

Anthony Williams: "No, I do not."

Carmel Cafiero: "Have you been ticketed?"

Anthony Williams: "Yes, I have."
He has also been arrested multiple times.           

We hit the water off the coast of Fort Lauderdale where an effort was underway to cleanup a failed tire reef from the 1970s.

We also hit the road to show how ATV and dirt bike riders were putting drivers at risk. We caught up with one when his bike stalled and he claimed he wasn’t even riding.

James: "I seen the whole club pass by…"

Carmel Cafiero: "No, no, no, you were a part of it. We were following you. Look, you’ve got your goggles on, you’ve got the whole nine yards."   

Our encounter on the side of the road serves as a good reminder – it’ll be tough to shake us in 2016, too. Carmel Cafiero 7News.    


Miami-Dade: 305-627-CLUE
Broward: 954-921-CLUE
You can also send a tweet to @carmelonthecase

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