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Hotline is a new weapon against illegal pill mills

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is setting up a toll-free hotline in Florida for tips about illegal pill mills.

Miami DEA chief Mark R. Trouville says raids and arrests of pill mills last week in South Florida generated a wave of public interest. Some people called news organizations with tips about pill mills.

The 24-hour pill mill hotline number is 1-888-954-4662.

South Florida has become a national hotbed of the illegal prescription of huge amounts of painkillers like oxycodone to addicts and dealers throughout the eastern United States.

SCOTTSMOOR

Part of I-95 reopened as fire moves along

The Florida Highway Patrol reopened a 30-mile stretch of Interstate 95 on the state's central Atlantic coast Tuesday but urged motorists to use caution because a 16,000-acre fire could still cause heavy smoke.

All lanes of I-95 in Brevard were reopened, less than a day after the fast-moving wildfire had caused the highway's shutdown and the voluntary evacuation of residents in this sparsely populated area along the border of Brevard and Volusia counties.

The wildfire was 25 percent contained by midafternoon Tuesday, with 60 firefighters using 10 engines against the blaze, fire officials said.

TALLAHASSEE

Everglades decision upheld, applauded

Conservationists are hailing a court ruling against the construction of a home-improvement store on the edge of the Everglades in Miami-Dade County.

They said on Tuesday that the decision is not only a victory for Everglades restoration but will set a statewide precedent for compliance with local growth-management plans.

The 1st District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee on Monday rejected the county's appeal of a decision by then-Gov. Charlie Crist and the Florida Cabinet to deny a comprehensive planning amendment for the proposed Lowe's store.

The National Parks Conservation Association, 1000 Friends of Florida and Everglades Law Center intervened on the state's side.

TALLAHASSEE

Four are indicted in hurricane fund scam

A federal grand jury has indicted four former insurance company executives on charges of defrauding $20 million from the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund. The indictment issued Tuesday night in Tallahassee charges the defendants, all former executives with the now-defunct Vanguard Fire and Casualty Co. of Maitland, with conspiracy and making false statements and representations.

William Sanders, Thomas Stinson, Richard Magsam and John Henry Axley III are accused of misrepresenting losses from Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 to illegally obtain reimbursements in excess of $20 million from the fund.

MIAMI

Democrat wins state Senate seat

Democrat Oscar Braynon II handily won a seat to the Florida Senate Tuesday, defeating Republican Joe Celestin in a rout in a special legislative election.

With a majority of precincts reporting, unofficial results gave Braynon an easy victory, expected in the heavily Democratic district.

The win is another step in the swift political rise of Braynon, a former Miami Gardens council member and vice mayor who was first elected to the state House in 2008. He gave up his House seat to jump into the Senate race to replace Democrat Frederica Wilson, who was elected to Congress in November.

Associated Press, Miami Herald

Hotline is a new weapon against illegal pill mills 03/01/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 11:25pm]

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