South Florida has always been known for its sandy beaches, sunshine and palm tress, but these days, it's also known as the "pill capital of America."
Florida newspapers gave the area this dubious distinction because of the number of pain clinics lining the roadways. Broward County detectives say there are approximately 91 pain clinics in their jurisdiction, as well as a street known as Pill Alley. "This region of the country has definitely become what we call ground zero for the pill epidemic," Detective Henry Lopez says. "What the pain clinics are actually doing is not illegal. People are obtaining these prescription medications, and they're selling them illegally to addicts."
Detectives say they often see patients faking injuries to get prescription medication from pain clinics, which are sometimes staffed by doctors with no certification in pain management. In one parking lot, they watch as a woman dons a sling and arm cast before entering a pain clinic. "We call it getting into costume," Lopez says.