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Trafficking Humans, Drugs and Sex: 24 Hours on the Border

Aired May 18, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: ...border Tijuana, where girls and young women hoping for a better life in the U.S. are lured into a world of sex and slavery. Tonight a special A.C. 360, "Trafficking Humans, Drugs and Sex: 24 Hours on the Border," here's Anderson Cooper.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And welcome back to this very special edition of 360.

I think if you watch for the next hour, you will have your eyes opened. One way or another every story you see tonight can be traced to a simple fact, no matter how hard they try -- and they are trying very hard indeed, authorities cannot fully control this border with Mexico.

We know it, they know it and a whole sick underworld of smugglers and hustlers and traffickers know it too. The stories you're going to see tonight, good, bad, and some of them very, very ugly flow from that one fact. And they are happening around the clock, which is how we'll report them. Starting with an exclusive look at a vault full of contraband in the dead of night.


COOPER (voice-over): As night falls, a shootout in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. As a new day nears, the streets will run red with blood.

Drug traffickers battling with Mexican federal agents. In this shootout, all but one of the drug cartel gunmen are killed. Others will quickly take their place, however. There's money to be made and valuable smuggling routes to protect.

After midnight Border Patrol agents on the U.S. side wait in darkness to catch smugglers bringing drugs across. The violence on the border has been increasing and drug seizures are on the rise.

At the San Ysidro border crossing, at least 50 bricks of cocaine were found hidden in this car. The driver, a Mexican woman, was allegedly a drug mule, supposed to meet up with a contact in San Diego.

(On camera): Most of the drugs which are seized at the border end up here. Now, we can't tell you exactly where here is. All I can say is that it's a secret location, heavily guarded somewhere in southern California.

This is a locked vault, operated by the Customs and Border Protection. It's heavily guarded. Inside this vault are more drugs than you've ever seen in your entire life.

(Voice-over): From floor to ceiling there are boxes and boxes of drugs.

(On camera): So, you have all drugs here -- marijuana, cocaine, meth amphetamine, heroin?

PAUL HENNING, PORT DIR., U.S. CUSTOMS & BORDER PROTECTION: We have the big four here -- marijuana, meth, coke and heroin. In addition to that, we have other drugs such as steroids, ketamine, date rape drugs, and a variety of other things that are of smaller quantity.

COOPER: This is incredible. I mean, it's a warehouse of drugs.

HENNING: That's correct. It's one of 67 warehouses that we have in the United States. This is the largest. It contains right now about 80 tons of different types of drugs. Right now amounting to a street value of about $150 million.

COOPER (voice-over): Marijuana is stored in boxes on open shelves. But harder drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine and heroin are kept in locked cages.

(On camera): This is what meth looks like up close?

HENNING: That's what it looks like up close in its raw form. That's correct. And this was actually seized from the gas tank of a motorcycle.

This is heroin. This is black tar heroin. This was seized in a Volkswagen Jetta in the firewall of the Jetta. And again, this officer was picking up on the nervousness on the part of the driver and then presence of the odor was confirmed by one of our detector dogs. And you can actually smell the pungent odor of the heroin through the packaging. It smells very much like vinegar.

COOPER: Yes, yes.

(Voice-over): One pound of heroin sells for about $25,000 on the street. That adds up to big business, too tempting for criminals to ignore.

(On camera): Who are the traffickers?

HENNING: The traffickers are a very large cartel. It's very large organizations that control the flow of the narcotics from where its produced to where its going. And they will simply recruit anybody that they can to actually smuggle it across the border. They're not going to do that themselves. They're going to try and hire somebody who is expendable that they can then talk into bringing the stuff in.

COOPER: This is just one package of marijuana. This one weighs about 13 pounds. It's worth about $45,000 on the streets in the Midwest. What's remarkable, though, in this shipment, is they found 11,000 pounds of marijuana hidden in a tractor trailer truck that was supposedly carrying television sets. It did have some TVs, but it also had all these bales of marijuana. On the street all of this stuff is probably worth about $33 million.

(Voice-over): The drugs here don't stay forever. Most are kept as evidence until the judicial process runs its course. Then they're moved out.

(On camera): This is literally the end of the line for the narcotics that have been seized in this area. They're boxed up, shrink wrapped and then sent to the incinerator. They're basically burned. Before they're put in these boxes, however, they get tested one more time by Customs and Border Protection officers.

That's a brick of marijuana, and he's putting it in those plastic containers to do what?

HENNING: That's correct. He puts it inside the plastic container, seals it up and then breaks three individual ampoules of chemical that are inside. And once all three of those react then with the THC content in the marijuana, we'll get a purple color, a very vibrant purple color, which will tell us that that is indeed marijuana.

COOPER (voice-over): For all the drugs incinerated, more boxes of narcotics will quickly take their place. The cat and mouse game between drug traffickers and law enforcement shows no sign of letting up.


(On camera): Well, of course, it's not just drugs being trafficked across this border. And in this next hour you're going to see it all. 6:00 a.m., and dawn reveals the human price of broken borders. That price, broken lives.

The story now from CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Daybreak on the border. And U.S. and Mexican agents prepare for another onslaught of deportees, led through this international gate back into Mexico.

The faces we see are not just men, women or even teenagers. We're talking about small children. Kids whose parents paid smugglers to sneak them into the United States in the trunks of vehicles, under floorboards, seats, even hidden in the dashboards and glove compartments.

ASTRID SANCHEZ, 15 YEAR OLD IMMIGRANT (through translator): I hid under blankets in the compartment of a bus.

GUTIERREZ: Just 15, Astrid made the harrowing trip from El Salvador to Tijuana all alone.

SANCHEZ (through translator): Sometimes it was hard to breathe, and sometimes we only had water.

GUTIERREZ: Astrid was trying to reach Boston, where her mother works in a factory. She left Astrid when she was only a baby so she could send money to help support her. But like thousands of other children who have dreams of being reunited with their parents, Astrid was caught at the border

SANCHEZ (through translator): I never understood why my mother went to the United States. I always felt sad for not having grown up with a mother.

GUTIERREZ: Enrique Mendez who runs this makeshift children's shelter just inside the Mexican border, sees children like Astrid arriving every day, all day long.

(On camera): This mobile home here in Tijuana is right on the border of two countries, and it's meant to be a safe house for the kids who are deported from the United States. If you come here, into this room, you can you see that there are bunk beds.

(Voice-over): The day has just started. Already parents and relatives show up looking for lost children. Children who disappeared with their boyellos (ph), or smugglers.

This mother tells Enrique, she's worried sick. She says her son is only 3. He was supposed to be delivered to her brother in Los Angeles, but he never made it. Enrique says the mother's best hope is that the smuggler was caught by Border Patrol and her son is in custody. If not, there's no telling what has become of him.

ENRIQUE MENDEZ, DIRECTOR OF CHILDREN'S SHELTER (through translator): Distraught families come here and say a smuggler approached us and said, I'll take your child across or I know someone who can. The family knows nothing about the smuggler and they never hear from the child again. So those kids were most likely trafficked for other reasons.

GUTIERREZ: U.S. and Mexican officials say smuggled children who disappear often end up in the hands of sex traffickers. No one knows just how many.

(On camera): I asked Lodi Verta Cruz (ph) if she was afraid to send her son with a stranger all alone. She tells me desperation drove her to make a bad decision. She's a single mother from Oaxaca, deep inside Mexico. She was looking for domestic work in Tijuana, but no one would hire her with a small child. That's why she took the risk.

(Voice-over): Enrique calls the Mexican consulate in San Diego. Lodi Verta's (ph) 3-year-old son, Yahir (ph), is safe, and on the next bus back to the border. An incredibly rare and lucky find. Most parents don't find their children here. It's noon. The bus arrives. Seventeen deported children make their way back into Mexico. The smallest among them, 3-year-old Yahir (ph), who is scared, lost and unable to verbalize what he's been through. Yahir (ph) and the younger children wait here. Enrique and a social worker try to sort out who they are so that family can be located. Lodi Verta (ph) returns to claim her son.

Back on the U.S. side of the border, Enrique's counterparts locate Astrid's mother, whom she hasn't seen in 14 years.

These mothers say they took the most dangerous gamble to better the lives of their children, but nearly paid the most painful price.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Tijuana, Mexico.


COOPER: Such a moving reunion. While those mothers wanted a better life for their children, some just want the money.

Noon strikes at "24 Hours on the Border," and as the sun beats down overhead, there's a trafficking going on on the border, and it's far worse than the buying and selling of cocaine, heroin and marijuana -- human beings, even babies are up for sale.

Here's Satcha Pretto (ph).


SATCHA PRETTO (ph), CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under the noontime sun in Monterrey, Mexico, something sinister, something unthinkable is about to happen.

You're watching a sales transaction unfold. This woman appears to be offering a baby to a stranger for cold, hard cash.

The events leading up to this moment began weeks earlier online. A man in Dallas, Sergio (ph), accidentally stumbled into the baby for sale offer while surfing the Internet. Sergio, who did not want to show his face or reveal his last name, was chatting online when he received a bizarre sales pitch from a woman in Mexico.

SERGIO (through translator): I began to play along with her and ask what she wanted, what was her deal.

PRATO: The deal? She wanted $70,000 in exchange for a two-week old baby boy.

SERGIO (through translator): When I tried to get a hold of the attorney general's office in Monterrey, but I couldn't.

PRATO: So instead, Sergio contacted the KUVN news department in Dallas. We sent a camera crew to his house to check out his story.

On Friday, April 28th we taped Sergio chatting online with the alleged baby seller. Here is the disturbing exchange. Sergio asked if the baby was registered or had a birth certificate. The woman answered no. He asked if the baby was healthy, to which she responded, he's healthy. It's just that I don't feel anything for him. Sergio asked to see the child, and then on his screen appeared the grainy picture of the baby.

Sergio continuing chatting with the woman until she agreed to knock down the price to $50,000. At that point Sergio had gained enough trust to get her name, Anna Luis Selgado (ph), and her cell phone number. Before signing off, the woman agreed to show Sergio her face so that he would be able to recognize her when they met in person.

Prior to that meeting, we asked the Televisa network affiliate in Monterrey, Mexico to collaborate with us on the story.

A reporter from Televisa pretended to be Sergio, the man Anna Luis Selgado (ph) had been negotiating with on the Internet. Cameras secretly videotaped their first face-to-face meeting on April 29th in Monterrey, Mexico.

PRATO: During a second meeting a week later, the undercover reporter asked the two how they were going to bring the baby into the United States. Anna Luis Selgado (ph) and her alleged accomplice, Alejandro Hernandez, said they had taken care of the issue. The infant would be smuggled in for an additional fee.

An infant in the hands of a smuggler. Surprisingly Selgado (ph) seemed incredibly nonchalant about giving up the baby who she claimed was her very own.

The three appeared to have agreed to finalize the sale of the baby on May 11th in the Mexican border town of Mejeledado (ph). But this time Reporter Jose Ramirez from Televisa Monterrey didn't show up alone.

Several Mexican agents formed a sting operation and hid nearby. Once Ramirez was face to face with the sellers, he asked them one more time to confirm their deal.

Three Mexican federal agents surrounded and arrested Selgado (ph) and Hernandez. And today, that tiny baby boy is in the care of a child protection agency in Mexico City.

(On camera): Mexican officials are conducting DNA tests to confirm whether Selgado (ph) is the mother of the baby. And they're also trying to determine if she's ever tried to sell an infant before.

In Dallas, Satcha Pretto (ph), for CNN.


COOPER: It is a shocking story, sadly not the first time we've heard that kind of story before.

CNN has made efforts to contact the attorneys for Anna Jeldago Ravira (ph) and Alejandro Hernandez, with no success.

As this special edition of 360 continues, Trafficking: 24 Hours on the Border," we take you inside the tunnels dug beneath the border. Some of the most sophisticated passageways ever discovered, used for illegal trafficking. Wait until you hear what was found inside them.

Plus, a disturbing trade you don't often hear about.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Do you know why you were arrested?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't. I mean, they said for selling underage dogs, but they're -- they're not.


COOPER: Puppies smuggled across the border. The scary thing is your pet may be one of them.

That and more when this special edition of 360 continues.


COOPER: Welcome back to "Trafficking: 24 Hours on the Border," a special edition of 360.

We're looking at the trafficking of humans and drugs and sex and lots of other things across this border.

It's now early afternoon and beneath this ground somewhere along this very border, illegal activities are taking place.

Since 9/11 at least 43 tunnels have been discovered along the borders of Canada, as well as the border with Mexico, including one believed to be the largest ever found, discovered this year. Take a look inside.


COOPER (voice-over): It's early afternoon on the border south of San Diego, in a non-descript warehouse in Otay Mesa, immigration authorities make a stunning discovery.

(On camera): The exit to the tunnel isn't much to speak of. It's basically a three by three foot hole knocked in the floor of this industrial warehouse south of San Diego. There's a concrete piece of tiling was removed and they found the tunnel here. When you go down the ladder you enter another world.

(Voice-over): It's a labyrinth of secret passageways, an elaborate tunnel where narcotics made their way to the United States.

It was discovered last January by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

(On camera): This is one of the most sophisticated tunnels they've ever discovered underneath the U.S.-Mexican border. It likely took years to build. You can see some of the pick marks used. And this is stone, so digging through this would take a long time to do. It's also got electricity. They've wired the entire tunnel with these cables, they have light bulbs on them. There's even a pipe that brings in fresh oxygen that was pumped in from Mexico.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came in and removed all the bulbs and took those to the lab for fingerprint evidence.

COOPER: Oh really?

MIKE UNZUETO, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: And then we replaced them with our own light bulbs.

COOPER: Mike Unzueto is the special agent in charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement in San Diego. His team believes the tunnel was most likely built by a Mexican drug cartel.

UNZUETO: You can see right here, there's a junction box for electricity. They probably used these junction boxes in the construction, if they had some sort of electrical tools that were assisting them in the drilling.

COOPER (voice-over): This tunnel was discovered by San Diego's tunnel task force, the only specialty force of its kind in the country.

UNZUETO: And here's where it really starts getting kind of wet.

COOPER (on camera): When you're walking in the tunnel, it's easy to get disoriented. It's hard to get a sense really, just how big it is. They say the tunnel's about seven football fields in length underneath the United States and about one football field in Mexico. It's a total, they say, of about 2,400 feet.

(Voice-over): This is the largest tunnel ICE has ever found underneath the U.S.-Mexican border. For that reason, they call it El Grande.

(On camera): I mean, it goes -- it's as far as the eye can see. Just a straight shot all the way down?

UNZUETO: Exactly. It's as far as you can see.

COOPER: And it looks like there's water all the way through.

UNZUETO: Yes. And actually, this is one of the shallower parts.

COOPER (voice-over): When U.S. and Mexican authorities raided the tunnel, they discovered more than two tons of marijuana. But how many tons of illegal drugs were brought through here before the tunnel was found remains an open question. (On camera): There's no way to tell how long this tunnel was in operation. The ropes were still all around. These were probably used to actually carry the bales of marijuana by the people who were bringing the drugs into the United States.

And gradually as the tunnel rises up toward the exit point in San Diego, they've actually poured concrete here to build steps to make it easier for people to walk on.

How would the drug operation work? Do you know?

UNZUETO: Well, we think it would be kind of like a series of ants. There would be a number of people that would be starting in Mexico, either carrying boxes or bundles across, or maybe backpacks, making their way all they way across the tunnel to this side. Probably depositing them at the entrance and then backtracking again.

COOPER: Does a cartel or whomever it is that build this tunnel, would they specialize just in marijuana? Or do most of them -- are they pretty diverse in terms of the drugs they try to move?

UNZUETO: No. My guess is that they would probably be a polynarcotic organization. They would be moving cocaine, marijuana. It just so happens that when we got in here, we found a load of marijuana.

COOPER (voice-over): Authorities have far fewer clues about what else might have been brought through this tunnel.

UNZUETO: From the Department of Homeland Security perspective, I mean, we're looking at this as a vulnerability to our nation's security.

So, whether it was drugs or aliens or who knows what else, you know, tunnels are paramount importance.

COOPER: Since El Grande was found last January, more than 20 other tunnels, albeit smaller ones, have been discovered along the southern border.

Two small tunnels, or gopher holes were found here, next to the San Ysidro port of entry, the biggest legal crossing point between the U.S. and Mexico, with 130,000 people crossing daily, it is a prime location.

FRANK MARWOOD, DEPUTY SPECIAL AGENT, ICE: It's perfect for what they want to do. By the fact that they are close to the border, the tunnel can come across fairly easily. The fact that they're in a parking lot where there are lots of vehicles always here 24 hours a day...

Frank Marwood is a deputy special agent with Immigration Customs Enforcement. Last Friday his team found this tunnel. It was only three feet high by four feet wide, called a gopher hole for obvious reasons. It stretched only about 90 feet into the U.S. MARWOOD: The plate sitting to my left here on the ground is the actual metal plate that they utilized to sit on top of some cinder blocks that were used to reinforce this hole. And then all of this debris was piled back on top of it during the daylight hours so that nobody could notice that the thing was even here.

COOPER: Marwood says border authorities take immediate action to plug the tunnels.

MARWOOD: I'm going to lift this up just against the fence so that you get an idea of what we do when we plug them, which is putting back in just concrete to it.

It was directly under this, as I said, that the hole went directly under here as soon as you drop down about three feet.

COOPER: Amazingly while Marwood's team filled one tunnel on Monday, the concrete mixer nearly sunk into another tunnel only 100 yards away.

MARWOOD: These kinds of access roads are constantly traveled by Border Patrol and by other law enforcement agencies on the U.S. protecting the borders, and they literally sink into the drive, the roadway on those places below that these smugglers have paved too close up with no reinforcement.

COOPER: It's a much more primitive tunnel, still incomplete, with no exit on the U.S. But it, too, will need to be filled.

Closing up El Grande has already begun. Federal contractors drilled a 35-foot hole and poured cement into the tunnel right where it crossed the U.S. border.

So far only one Mexican national has been arrested in connection with the building of this mega tunnel, but the investigation is still ongoing.

And authorities know for every tunnel they find, there are many more they probably do not.


COOPER (on camera): Well, it's not just drugs and people. Animals are also smuggled over this border. Puppies -- so many of them, officials have called it the puppy pipeline. There is a small chance that your pet was part of it.

Also tonight, the trade of sex.


SISTER DORA: I cannot fathom or even understand how anyone man, whether it is your child or your present wife or what, that you would violate them. I cannot understand that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: Young people, teenagers taken across the border as sex slaves, and Americans going to Tijuana to have sex with children.

We'll take you inside this underground world when this special edition of 360, "Trafficking; 24 Hours on the Border," continues.


COOPER: Well, as our "24 Hours on the Border" special continues, we're looking at trafficking of drugs and children and sex.

And illegal trafficking by mid-afternoon is in full force. While the smuggling of drugs and guns and even human beings makes headlines, there's another disturbing trade happening that often goes unnoticed.

Every year thousands of puppies, of all things, are smuggled here into the United States. And guess what? Your pet just may be one of them.

Here's CNN's Gary Tuchman.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 3:00 p.m. on the U.S.-Mexican border.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out of there. That's a good boy.

TUCHMAN: Another type of smuggling is taking place.

These are sick, underage puppies. All 26 of them found stuffed in two small burlap bags in the car of a puppy smuggler. Officials say they would have been sold for want ads on street corners in the U.S. Now, they're fighting for their lives -- too ill and too young.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their faces don't look much bigger than hamsters here.

TUCHMAN: Under California law, dogs can't be sold if they're under eight weeks old or sick. And the vets at the shelter say these dogs are no older than five weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't go too far Meho (ph) because you're going to fall, OK?

TUCHMAN: And underage dogs like these are sold to unsuspecting families all the time for prices well under the more than $1,000 that is often paid in a pet store.

Rosie Tercero bought a poodle mix, named Cody, for her children. After paying $400 on a street corner in Rancho Cucamonga, California, she quickly noticed he was sick.

ROSIE TERCERO, DOG OWNER: And about two weeks later, he started showing worse signs of neurological disorder. And he started twitching really bad and then I took him in and the doctor said we need to put him to sleep.

TUCHMAN: Her sister, Monica Westphaln, bought two tiny dogs for her children this past November. They both died within days.

MONICA WESTPHALN, DOG OWNER: We're now in March, but it still hurts because it was two puppies.

TUCHMAN: Lieutenant Dan De Sousa is with the San Diego County Department of Animal Services.

LT. DAN DE SOUSA, SAN DIEGO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL SERVICES: You know, unfortunately it's safer than selling drugs. If you get caught smuggling puppies, you're not really going to be arrested right away in the same way.

TUCHMAN (on camera): For the conscience-challenged puppy smuggler, the business motto is irresistible. Go into Mexico and you can buy purebred puppies for as little as $20 a piece. Gamble that you successfully get across this border and then sell them in the United States for a 1,000 percent markup. That is a typical scenario.

We went into Tijuana, Mexico, and asked where we could buy puppies. Using hidden cameras, my photographer and I found tiny puppies being sold out of a car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Schnauzer Mini -- Miniature Schnauzer.

TUCHMAN: Schnauzer Miniature?

(Voice-over): It is not illegal to sell dogs younger than eight weeks in Mexico. But because the people selling them know their puppies could end up in California, they may not have told us the following if they knew we had a camera.


TUCHMAN (on camera): Seven weeks. This dog is seven weeks old, he says.

(Voice-over): We say good bye to these puppy peddlers and make our way to this shanty, where puppies are for sale in the yard.

Here we show the camera, and they show us puppies in a basket. They're only four weeks old -- and not much bigger than large rodents.

(On camera): Do you like dogs?

She says she loves her dogs and wants them to be taken care of properly, but puppies like these are prime candidates to be smuggled across the border.

James Hynes is the director of the San Ysidro, California Border Crossing -- the busiest in the U.S., where they have confiscated hundreds of puppies.

JAMES HYNES, DIRECTOR, SAN YSIDRO, CALIFORNIA BORDER CROSSING: They could be in a basket with a blanket over them. They could be in baggage. They could be in the trunk. They could be, you know, they could have tape. They could be taped up. I man, you never know what you're going to see out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to go ahead and serve the warrant.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): So in southern California, different agencies have gotten together to try to deal with the puppy smuggling problem.

With our hidden camera, we shoot a sting operation. An undercover officer with the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority answered this classified ad from a woman, alleged to have sold many underage puppies in the past.

The transaction takes place and the officer signals. That's when this Los Angeles woman gets the surprise of her life, guns and handcuffs spring out and she's placed under arrest and charged with selling a dog that is too young and sick. She's with her small son and police try to comfort him as they count up $1,700 in her wallet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We received previous complaints about her. We actually think she's a big fish.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Do you know why you were arrested?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't. I mean, they said for selling underage dogs, but they're -- they're not.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The authorities disagree after a vet looked at the dogs that he said were full of worms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're estimating their age to be six to seven weeks.

TUCHMAN: A search warrant allows authorities to go into her home where they say they find more underage puppies and more excess cash.

The suspect faces the possibility of one year in prison. Police say puppy smuggling is increasingly popular because small dogs are very trendy.

(On camera): Monica Smith, though, says she just wanted a dog for her children to love.

What happened to your doggy?


TUCHMAN: And so have countless others, smuggled across the border by people not at all consumed about the heartache they are causing.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Tijuana, Mexico.


COOPER: Hard to believe.

As our look at "24 Hours on the Border" continues, it's 3:30 p.m., a shooting on the border. It happened today, very close to here. Officers still at the scene. We're going to have a quick update straight ahead.

Plus, a deal that was just too good to be true. She was promised a dream job in the United States. What she got was a nightmare. The horrific story, when this special edition of 360, "Trafficking: 24 Hours on the Border," continues.


COOPER: Well, at 3:30 this afternoon, a reminder of just how violent things can be on this border. A shooting at the San Ysidro border crossing, which is a few miles from where I'm standing, about five miles. It's one of the busiest crossover points -- illegal crossing into the United States.

Authorities shot one man who was driving a vehicle. They had been observing his car based on some tips. He was believed to be a smuggler of migrant workers. They tried to get his vehicle to stop. It would not stop, they say, and authorities shot the driver, killing him. His body lay in that vehicle for quite some time as they roped off the scene and investigated exactly what happened.

Five other people were taken into custody who were found inside that vehicle. They continue to investigate and for hours that border crossing -- such a busy crossing indeed -- was shut down.

As I said, it's five miles from where I'm sanding right now, which is the -- this is the border here in San Diego County, and this is the ocean. The border, the fence literally just goes right into the water and stops. Nevertheless people try to swim around it, people try to surfboard around it, whatever they can.

The border here, you can actually just kind of squeeze right through it here. It's actually open, metal fencing, but it's just slats here. You can see right through over to Tijuana, and some people milling around on the Tijuana side.

Coming up the story of a young mother who was smuggled into the United States, made lots of promises. All of those promises were broken and her life and her work ended up just being terrible.

That story when 360 continues.


COOPER: "Trafficking: 24 Hours on the Border." As evening nears, some illegal immigrants who sought a better life in the U.S. are now facing a harsh reality. Many who were promised well-paying jobs, good shelter and even happiness, instead got the opposite. They ended up in slavery. Here's CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Against the 5:00 o'clock rush in Los Angeles, this woman named Flor thinks about how the worst trip of her life began.

When a friend in a sewing class told her recruiters in her Mexican town were looking for tailors to work in America.

FLOR, VICTIM OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING: She was a teacher. She was a sewing teacher.

FOREMAN (on camera): She knew that you had children, you needed the money and you had skill?

FLOR: And she said they were going to pay for everything.

FOREMAN (on camera): But after Flor was smuggled in, she says she was taken to a sweat shop, forced to sew 18 hours a day and sleep in a storage room while her boss demanded $2,600 for bringing her here.

FLOR: She threatened me. She said that if I tried to escape, if I tried to do something that wasn't right, somebody who I love will pay the consequences.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Human trafficking, the modern slave trade, closely watched by the federal government in recent years is believed to bring 18,000 people across the border into America annually -- half for the sex trade; half for forced labor as domestic help, farm, factory, and construction workers, according to Wade Horn, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

DR. WADE HORN, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: I would be a mistake to believe that this is a crime that is only occurring in border towns, only occurring in big cities.

FOREMAN: This is happening along Main street, U.S.A., everywhere?

HORN: It is happening everywhere in the United States unfortunately.

FOREMAN: The victims are lured by promises of good jobs, education, free housing. And traffickers then often prevent their victims from ever telling the families back home that those dreams have been lost.

KAY BUCK, COALITION TO ABOLISH SLAVERY AND TORTURE: The one thing that people don't realize is most traffickers have pretty strong ties to the communities where they traffic. And what that means is there's some trust.

FOREMAN: This month a massive campaign was launched by the Inter-American Development Bank to warn people in Latin American countries.

HORN: Traffickers see human beings as commodities, and as commodities, they see them as dispensable and disposable.

FOREMAN (on camera): As for Flor, she says she escaped her prison after a month and a half and is now living here under a special visa, trying to bring her children in too. But a memory of her trafficker haunts her.

FLOR: She said dogs have more rights in this country than we have.

FOREMAN: She said dogs had more right than you?

FLOR: Yes.

FOREMAN: What did you think?

FLOR: In some way, she was saying the truth.

FOREMAN: For her, the truth is, thousands of people living secretly in the land of the free are not free at all.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: It is hard to imagine so many people living like that here in America.

South of the border, many teens also find themselves caught up in the sex trade. Fortunately, there are people working to rescue these kids and turn their lives around. The story, when a this special edition of 360, "Trafficking: 24 Hours on the Border," continues.


COOPER: Over the course of 24 hours, this border between the U.S. and Mexico sees an awful lot the trafficking.

But as our special coverage heeds deep into the night, we're about to see the worst of what happens here -- the selling of young people, children, teenagers, to be used as sexual objects.

Again, here's CNN's Thelma Gutierrez.


GUTIERREZ (voice-over): His voice echoes through this neighborhood in Tijuana, Mexico. It is a song without words. Only melancholy, haunting songs from a child who was once bought and sold.

Tijuana sits on the U.S.-Mexican border. On the weekends, Americans flock here to party. Just five blocks away is the dark side few outsiders have seen. This is what police call the tolerant zone. It is a maze of dark alleys lined with small bars and young prostitutes.

In this zone, prostitution is legal, but sex workers must be at least 18. Many don't look a day over 15, and some may be even younger than that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I don't like it, but what can I do. I started this a year ago, when I was 17.

GUTIERREZ: It's hard to know just how old this teenage prostitute really is because they all say they're at least 18.

We can't show you her face because she'd be in danger from the men who control this zone and who enforce strict discipline on the young prostitutes who work for them.

The teenager says she was lured to the border from another state in Mexico and that she's doing this to earn money to send to her family. Trafficking experts say young women like her would be over more profitable commodities in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I've had guys ask me to go with them. I would like to leave here if I could. Some people have even tried to take me to the United States.

GUTIERREZ: This is how international traffickers lure young women into the underground world of sex slavery, where they might disappear forever.

CHARLES SONG, COALITION TO ABOLISH SLAVERY: People will be promised different jobs or different opportunities to come here to the United States or they will actually be literally kidnapped and forced to come over here.

GUTIERREZ: Federal authorities say Mexico is predominantly a source country, where human beings are found, bought and sold by traffickers. According to CIA estimates, nearly 18,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year. One-third are from Latin America and no one knows how many are minors.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They range from ages 14 to 18 and maybe younger. They've got a lot of makeup on (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

GUTIERREZ: Marissa Barber (ph) is a human rights activist who works with other groups to protect the most vulnerable -- street children who work in the sex trade.

MARISSA BARBER (ph), HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVIST: They have no place to go, so they roam the streets. They do survival sex. They do other things that you don't want to mention. They don't do them because they're bad, but because it is a need.

GUTIERREZ: The main thing children need is a place where they can feel safe.

JORGE BADOYA (ph), SHELTER DIRECTOR: This is the sleeping area. We have three sleeping areas. GUTIERREZ: We were granted rare access to this government-run shelter in Tijuana, where sexually exploited boys are counseled, educated and given a second chance at childhood. Jorge Badoya (ph) is the director.

BADOYA (ph): We are most of the time full because we have the problem with street children.

GUTIERREZ: It was here at this shelter where I first met the boy with the voice who sings songs that only have meeting to him. We'll call him Tomas.

TOMAS, VICTIMIZED CHILD (through translator): When I sing, I forget everything, all the hurt, the rejection and the abuse. I express my feelings by singing.

GUTIERREZ: Tomas also expresses his feelings by writing. He showed me his journal. Inside, the tragic story of a mother who did not want him and a life of abuse that led him to the streets when he was only 11.

TOMAS (through translator): My mother and stepfather threw me out of the house. I was crying on the street, and a man came and took me home.

GUTIERREZ: Tomas ran away from a series of child molesters until one day he says he met a woman with whom he thought he'd be safe.

TOMAS (through translator): The woman took me home with her and fed me. Within a week, I learned it was a brothel. I had nowhere to go, so I stayed there. The woman gave me things. In exchange, I had to prostitute myself.

GUTIERREZ: Tomas says he was forced to wear makeup and dress as a girl for clients, some of whom were American men.

He says he lived this twisted existence for four years as a child prostitute, until he learned he was about to be trafficked.

TOMAS (through translator): I found out they wanted to sell me to a person. He offered to buy me, but I said no.

GUTIERREZ: This time, when he ran away he managed to find his way to Jorge's shelter.

Sister Dora (ph) says there is no shortage of exploited children in her shelter either. She bought it and runs it with money she made in California real estate.

This was a socialite who once owned beachfront property in San Diego and 120 pairs of designer shoes.

SISTER DORA (ph), SHELTER DIRECTOR: In here, we're going to show you the bedrooms.

GUTIERREZ: A far cry from how she lives now. SISTER DORA (ph): In here we have three beds, sort of crammed together, as you can see.

GUTIERREZ: She has space for six kids, but 16 live here.

SISTER DORA: We actually are hoping and started praying for a center that would house as many as 80 to 100 children.

GUTIERREZ: Sister Dora (ph) says it was a calling from above that compelled her to dedicate her life to the children. From her own money, she pays tuition so that each one can go to school. For many here, it is the first time in a classroom.

She says every boy and girl here has a story of heartache and stolen innocence, stories she's heard for 10 years.

SISTER DORA (ph): And I cannot fathom or even understand how anyone man, whether it is your child or your present wife or what, that you would violate them. I cannot understand that, and it just breaks me up terribly. How horrible. How unjust. And what it does to their lives. They're just absolutely in shambles, and this is why we have so many that do attend, go into prostitution for that reason. They say, well, I'm not worth anything.

GUTIERREZ: In the tolerant zone, child prostitutes learn the tragic lesson: that the value of their lives is ultimately measured in the desires and wallets of strangers.

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Tijuana, Mexico.



ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS". We'll have more of "Trafficking Humans, Sex and Drugs: 24 Hours on the Border," in just a moment.

First, though, here's a look at some of the business stories we're following for you.

Another rough day on Wall Street. Stocks fell again due to inflation fears. The Dow dipping 77 points, the NASDAQ, 15; and the S&P, 8. Over the past three days the blue chips have lost 300 points.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says the housing market is cooling off, pointing to slowing sales and slowing construction. But, he says real estate could still have a strong year.

And shares for Computer Maker Dell are up more than 2 percent even after it reported an 18 percent drop in first-quarter profits. So, why the boost? Well, the computer maker announced it will start using microprocessors from Advanced Microdevices, Incorporated, AMD, its own high-end servers.

That's a look at your business headlines in the special edition of 360, "Trafficking Human, Drugs and Sex: 24 Hours on the Border," continues in just a moment.


COOPER: Thanks for watching this special edition of 360.

"LARRY KING" is next.

We'll have more from the border tomorrow. And the hunt for Fugitive Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs.

Good night.


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