MIAMI (WSVN) - The 7investigates team exposes wrong doing, demands answers, and digs deep into the big stories that break. Seven’s Kevin Ozebek looks back at what he and his team uncovered in 2021.

Kevin Ozebek: “Junior, can we speak to you for a second?”

The man you saw speeding away from us is Junior Gonzalez Montes de Oca.

We tracked him down after angry homeowners told 7News they paid him big money for home renovation work, but were left with big messes instead.

Michael Chirino, homeowner: “As soon as he receives the money, there’s automatically a disconnection, and that’s when the excuses begin.”

During the course of our investigation, Gonzalez Montes de Oca was arrested.

Today he’s facing charges of grand theft, contracting without a license and organized fraud.

Tony Miller: “Oh, my God, it smells so bad.”

Our photographer Tony Miller could barely get through shooting the video when we checked out this clubhouse and pool at a North Miami condo complex.

Trash was everywhere, and the pool was filled with green, murky water.

Alejandra Zapata, resident: “This used to be a very pretty, a really nice pool area.”

After residents reached out to 7investigates, we reached out to the county.

It ordered the pool drained and clubhouse boarded up.

Since our story aired, the club house has been torn down and the pool has been filled-in.

After the tragedy in Surfside we tracked down the town’s top building official who was on the roof of the Champlain South Tower just 14 hours before the collapse.

Kevin Ozebek: “Were there any signs, anything that looked… ?”

Jim McGuiness, Surfside building official: “None. None.”

Months later, 7investigates exposed the issues at this Miami Beach apartment building owned by the mayor of Surfside.

Those issues included balconies in such bad shape they were roped off to tenants.

Mayor Charles Burkett told us he was waiting on permits to make repairs.

Charles Burkett, Mayor of Surfside: “The city has taken the position that somehow we haven’t submitted the plans, but the plans have been submitted over and over.”

The City of Miami Beach told us at the time, required construction drawings were not submitted. A few weeks after our report, tenants had their leases terminated.

They were told it would be too dangerous to live here with extensive construction work starting soon. We also investigated how our paradise is in peril.

The 7investigates team exposed this massive illegal dump in the Redlands.

Mary Waters, Redlands resident: “It’s a horrific thing for anyone to do to the earth.”

We searched for invasive caimans in the Everglades.

Voice of Sidney: “This is the target. This is what we are after.”

And we learned manatees are dying in record numbers most likely because pollution is killing off the sea grass they eat.

Pamela Sweeney, Miami-Dade County: “Manatees need to have a food source, and it is all of our responsibility to keep the water clean so that food source can thrive.”

Now the work is underway to make sure the New Year is a better one for these beloved animals.

Miami-Dade County has a program aimed at boosting the health of Biscayne Bay so there’s more sea grass, and state biologists are even considering feeding manatees to ensure this icon of Florida is here in 2022 and well beyond.


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