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Keeping Them Honest on the West Coast; Surprise Visit to Iraq; Baghdad Crackdown; Relief for Rove; Bush Bounce?; Border Agents Arrested; Hiding in the Sewer; High-Speed Chases; Ban Police Chases? Drifting

Aired June 13, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: Coming soon to Main Street. Should you be worried?
This is a special edition of ANDERSON COOPER 360, "Keeping Them Honest on the West Coast." Live from Los Angeles, here's Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And thanks for joining us here live from the roof of CNN headquarter here in downtown L.A. It is the first stop on our West Coast road trip.

Later on this week I'll be in San Francisco and then Seattle.

Over the next few days, we're going to be keeping them honest in many places, on many fronts, and bringing you exclusive reports.

This hour we begin with President Bush in Iraq. He was only there for a few hours. The top secret mission took a lot to pull off. Whether it will pay off is the question tonight. Here's CNN's Suzanne Malveaux.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For President Bush personal impressions are everything. That's why he secretly traveled to Baghdad, even surprising his host, to shake his hand and keep a promise.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've come to not only look you in the eye, I've also come to tell you that when America gives its word, it will keep its word.

MALVEAUX: The surprise visit is part of an aggressive new effort by the administration to bolster the new Iraqi government and pivot the burden of security and governing to the Iraqi people.

BUSH: I appreciate you recognize the fact that the future of your country is in your hands.

MALVEAUX: The meeting with Iraq's new Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki and his newly elected cabinet was a result of a cleverly orchestrated bait and switch.

Monday Mr. Bush held five hours of meetings with his top advisers as his Camp David retreat, using a secure video link to confer with U.S. military commanders in Iraq.

Then he said he would call Iraq's prime minister and his cabinet Tuesday morning to introduce them by videophone to the U.S. team.

BUSH: Tomorrow's going to be a fascinating day.

MALVEAUX: A coy hint? Perhaps. But certainly an understatement. Aides say the trip had been in the works for a month, but was given the green light after the new Iraqi cabinet was completed last Thursday.

BUSH: On Monday I will meet with my national security team and other key members of my cabinet at Camp David to discuss the way forward in Iraq.

MALVEAUX: The two-day war council was part of an elaborate rouse. The Camp David retreat was used as cover for Mr. Bush to quietly sneak off after dinner Monday night to Andrews Air Force base where Air Force One departed for Baghdad just after 9:00.

Only the vice president and Secretaries Rice and Rumsfeld knew of the president's departure. The rest of his cabinet was kept out of the loop.

Under incredible security the two leaders met in one of Saddam Hussein's old palaces, which is temporarily the U.S. embassy.

Later Mr. Bush Gave a pep talk to about 800 U.S. troops.

BUSH: I truly believe the work that you are doing here is laying the foundation of peace for generations to come. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

MALVEAUX (on camera): Wednesday Mr. Bush meets with lawmakers here at the White House to brief them about his Iraq trip as part of an ongoing campaign to drum up much-need support for his Iraq mission.

Suzanne Malveaux, CNN, the White House.


COOPER: Air Force One and other aircraft that arrive in Baghdad, you have to take a steep spiral descent to avoid being a target for aircraft missiles or small arms fire. A sign, of course, that the airport is still not safe, though it's improving. Here's the raw data.

Baghdad International has been refurbished, repaired through a $17.5 million contract to rebuild airports in Baghdad, Basra and Mosul.

It's processed more than 5,000 flights since July 2003. Baghdad International serves more than 60 civilian flights every day with two airlines handling international travel -- Air Serve and Royal Jordanian.

And if you're looking for a magazine or a trinket, the airport's duty-free shop is open for business. As I recall, they don't really have magazines, just a lot of trinkets. President Bush's visit to Iraq comes as week after the U.S. military tracked down and killed al Qaeda's leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It also comes at an especially dangerous time in Baghdad. The violence has became so bad that a new security operation is under way tonight.

Covering that, CNN's John Vause.


JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Even by Baghdad standards, there's been a dramatic increase in car bombings, drive-by shootings and other attacks in recent days. Most have targeted civilians and police.

The government solution? A massive crackdown to begin after dawn tomorrow. According to the interior ministry, more than 70,000 mostly Iraqi troops will patrol the streets of Baghdad for an indefinite period of time.

Checkpoints have already gone up on roads in and out of the city and vehicles are being searched.

We're fulfilling orders to put the Baghdad security force into force, says this Iraqi commando, so that we can eliminate terrorism and cease car bombs.

The increased security around the capitol also coincided with the sudden unexpected visit by the U.S. president. It also coincided with the posting on an Islamic Web site of a statement from a terrorist describing himself as the successor of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

The statement threatened new attacks. It also said that the end is near and that the enemy, presumably the American military, will be showing us its back soon.

The new security operation ordered by the Iraqi prime minister is the largest since sovereignty was handed back to the Iraqis two years ago. It will involve policemen, army commandos and other Iraqi security forces. Coalition troops will also be part of the operation, even to the extent of providing air strikes, if necessary.

The government will also enforce a ban on the widespread practice of carrying weapons and there's the possibility of a night time curfew, which could keep most Baghdad residents off the streets.

But some of the worst violence in the past 36 hour has been outside the capital in the northern city of Kirkuk. Five early morning explosions left more than a dozen dead. The police chief was among the targets, but survived.


COOPER: And John Vause joins us now live from Baghdad now.

John, how long is this crackdown supposed to be in affect and do you actually see it around you so far?

VAUSE (on camera): Well, Anderson, the answer to that is that this is an open-ended operation. It will be decided by the prime minister when it comes to an end. It's being described as a strategic operation to try and take back the capitol.

Right now it's been under way for about an hour. We haven't seen much. We have heard gunfire and mortar fire. Whether it's part of the security sweep, we don't know; whether that's just part of the ongoing regular violence here in Baghdad -- Anderson.

COOPER: John Vause, appreciate it. Stay safe.

While President Bush was in Iraq, back home in Washington, his closest adviser, Karl Rove, was having what we assume is the best day he's had in nine months. That's how long the prospect of being a criminal defendant in the CIA leak case has been hanging over him. Not any more.

Here's CNN's Candy Crowley.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You are looking at the happiest man in America. Karl Rove, free of the threat of indictment.

The way his lawyer tells it, Rove got the news last night, just before he fried Democrats who want out of Iraq now.

KARL ROVE, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF: And when it gets difficult, they fall back on that party's old pattern of cutting and running. They may be with you at the first shots, but they are not going to be there for the last tough battles. They are wrong.

CROWLEY: Just like the old days, uncompromising, swinging for the fences, Rove offering up an election year template for Republican success.

ROVE: We were absolutely right with our coalition partners to remove him from power. We have no excuses to make for it.

CROWLEY: Politics al la Karl mask the reality that an indictment would have cost Rove his job and inflicted irreparable damage to a president who can ill afford a hit. This is probably the second happiest man in America.

MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He's not just a close adviser. Karl is a good friend. And the president is very sincere and honest and they've been together for a long time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States.

CROWLEY: As the president visited Iraq, his closest, longest serving adviser went through his daily paces and the White House offered up a low-key reaction. What is remarkable, said the president's communications chief, is how Karl kept his focus, his energy and his great attitude during this entire period.

Others see it differently. One Rove friend said when you are staring down the barrel of an indictment and millions in lawyer's fees, it takes your eye off the ball.

But now Rove is back in the game, which is to say, trying to keep a Republican majority in the House and Senate.

MATALIN: One foot in front of the other and looking at these races very closely, and doing what he does better than anybody in either party in decades.

CROWLEY: With the president's political guru on terra firma and Democrats minus a talking point, they are breathing easier in Republican world.

KEN MEHLMAN, RNC CHAIR: And what's so incredible to me is that the folks on the other side, people like Howard Dean, people like Harry Reid and others, they owe Karl Rove an apology.

CROWLEY: Two words -- fat chance.

SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: Someone has to be held accountable for the leak itself. Not just for perjury. Whether it's Vice President Cheney, "Scooter" Libby or anyone else in the administration.

CROWLEY: The investigation goes on. Libby's perjury trial is scheduled for January, but after two and a half years of investigation and five grand jury appearances, there is no bad news for Karl Rove, which is very, very good news for the White House.

Candy Crowley, CNN, Washington.


COOPER: And we're joined now by Former Presidential Adviser David Gergen.

Good news for Karl Rove, good news for the Republicans. Probably bad news for Democrats. This man is now going to be focusing solely and squarely on the upcoming elections.

DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Absolutely, Anderson. The president and his team are on a roll right now and Karl Rove has now become part of that roll. They didn't think this might be coming this quickly.

If I may say, on a personal basis, I'm glad to see it for two reasons. One, I think it's right on substance. I didn't think it merited an indictment. But secondly, you know, if you've been in the trenches, Anderson, you don't like to see people go down over thing likes this. You don't like to see people go down for a scandal. I disagree with Karl on a lot of issues, but I'm glad he's back in the game. It's going to make it a much tougher game for Democrats.

And maybe that's not a bad thing for them to know right now. It's a wake-up call. They've gotten a little complacent, starting to measure the drapes in the speaker's office and over in the -- and the Congress, and thinking that maybe they're going to sweep in. I think is now going to force them to say what do we really stand for in this election? How do we win on merits. Because it's going to be tough.

As you saw last night, Karl is going to come out swinging. He's going to go right after them.

COOPER: I want to talk about his strategy in a moment, but I mean, what do you make of this White House? I mean, is this bump, is this resurgence for real and how much credit should go to Bolten? I mean, it seems like this president -- I mean, there have been good news with Zarqawi and certainly Karl Rove, but they seem to be on message more?

GERGEN: I think it's a White House with more discipline, with more just sort of click and certainly better orchestration. They're toned up, they're playing a higher level game than they were playing before. And I think it's showing up in all sorts of ways.

Anderson, what we know is that in Iraq it doesn't change the facts on the ground. It's extraordinary, you know, lots of people being killed today in Kirkuk.

We've seen presidents go to Vietnam before. President Johnson, President Nixon went to Vietnam. They made surprise visits. It didn't help to win the war.

But I'll tell what you I think is happening as result of this, this roll that the president's team are on. They're attacking some of the underlying arguments. Argument against the president -- he was in a bubble. Here he's out in Iraq, not a man in the bubble. That he's aloof from Congress. You know, Josh Bolten puts on all these events on the -- he has tea with members of Congress.

If you go to the various -- and they're incompetent. You know, that's been a charge. Here they pull off this highly orchestrated event, very secret even from their own cabinet and make it work.

So, I think they're doing a good job, but they're not solving the war in Iraq, but they're doing a good job of undercutting some of the maim criticisms against them.

COOPER: It also seems like, I mean, Karl Rove in that speech, defining the Democrats as he sees them, it seems like we're going to be hearing a lot more of that from not only Republican candidates, but out of this White House, them looking for issues that they think shows the difference between Republicans and Democrats?

GERGEN: I think that's right, Anderson. And what the Democrats are going to need is someone who's a spokesperson for the Democratic Party, who can take the fight back to the Republicans. Ron Emanuel (ph) in house is one of those people. He's very feisty, very tough. But you know the person that they really need out there is Bill Clinton, who gave a tough speech in Florida last night. And it's an interesting question, with given his wife's situation, whether Bill Clinton can be the spokesperson for the Democratic Party, in this environment. You know, he can go toe-to-toe with Karl Rove. He can out-argue anybody in America.

COOPER: Do you think he wants to do that?

GERGEN: Well, it was interesting last night in Florida, that he was -- seemed to be licking his chops, wanting to get back in the game. Is he following this closely? You bet he is.

I had an opportunity to talk to him about 10 days ago. He is very deeply engaged in what's going on. He's very much up to speed on every aspect of American politics.

COOPER: And Howard -- I mean, one would say, well, the leader of the Democratic Party, the head of the Democratic Party should, be doing that, Howard Dean is the man on that. Is he too divisive to do that?

GERGEN: I don't think he's the right person to carry this part of the argument about Iraq and the larger picture. You know, he does not have the kind of base, he doesn't have the kind of national voice. And I'm not sure he is quite as good. I mean, he does not represent the full Democratic Party, even though he's very good with the left.

But there are a lot of moderate Democrats and independents who will not follow his lead. They need somebody who is, who's higher stature, broader, and with a broader base to be the spokesperson for the party.

I don't think they've found that person yet. I think Bill Clinton is the best candidate. I mean, you know, and in Bill Clinton and Karl Rove, you do have the best political minds in the two parties facing off against each other.

COOPER: It would certainly make the next several months much more interesting, as if that could be possible.

David, thanks. David Gergen, appreciate it.

GERGEN: Thank you.

COOPER: The cases are apparently unrelated, but the circumstance is very similar. Two border agents accused by federal prosecutors of taking bribes to let illegal immigrants across the border.

It's not just human beings smuggled in from Mexico. We know that. Tonight we visit the vault where illegal drugs end up after they're confiscated. If you've always wanted to know what 80 tons of narcotics looks like, well stick around.

And in television terms, it is, well, the guiltiest of guilty pleasures here in L.A. It is not a guilty pleasure at all. It is a deadly business. Cops chasing cars. The people who steal cars, when this special edition of 360 from L.A. continues.


COOPER: Well, the proposal to send National Guard troops along the Mexico-Arizona border seems to have scared illegal immigrants. The U.S. Border Patrol says detentions are down by 21 percent from last year.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors allege that some illegals are finding a less physically taxing route into the country than attempting to cross the scorching desert. They say that they are actually paying Border Patrol officers to look the other way while they actually just drive through.

CNN's Chris Lawrence investigates.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Richard Elizalda is a Vietnam Vet who served nearly 20 years in the Marine corps. Another 10, protecting the border. But prosecutors say he became corrupt, taking a car and cash in exchange for waving smugglers through his inspection lane.

GENE IREDALE, ELIZALDA'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He's depressed and he's sad. He's worried.

LAWRENCE: Elizalda's attorney says officers here inspect millions of cars each year. San Ysidro is the busiest port of entry in the world.

IREDALE: If somebody got through, that doesn't mean that he knowingly permitted contraband into the United States or permitted illegal aliens into the United States.

LAWRENCE: Prosecutors say officers like these only work each lane for 20 minutes at a time, yet that the same people kept driving through Elizalda's lane. And they found $36,000 cash in his briefcase, even though Elizalda only makes $65,000 a year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Elizalda sold out his country for between $500 and $1,000 per smuggled alien.

LAWRENCE: Officials say almost all Customs and Border Protection officers are honest. And apprehensions are up 10 percent from last year.

JIM HYNES, CALIFORNIA BORDER PATROL: We find illegal aliens concealed in quarter-panels, in dashboards, in gas tanks.

LAWRENCE: Michael Gilliland is the other officer charged with taking bribes. Prosecutors say he would call smugglers during his breaks and talk about seeing movies at certain times and asking how many tickets they would need. A not so sophisticated code for when he was working and how many illegal immigrants were coming through.

A judge allowed both men to post bond before trial, but both will be constantly tracked by a GPS monitor.


LAWRENCE (on camera): And when they searched Gilliland's home, investigators say they found $26 million Iraqi dinar. That's $18,000 U.S., but officials say they do not believe he was smuggling anyone from the Middle East.

So far we've tried, but haven't received Gilliland's attorney. But we do know both officers have pleaded not guilty -- Anderson.

COOPER: That's a stranger tale. Chris, thanks. Chris Lawrence, reporting from San Ysidro.

No matter how you cut it though, illegal activity at the border always comes down to money. Nothing gushes cash faster than illegal drugs. And we want to give you a sense of just the quantity of drugs that are confiscated by authorities. And just a fraction, they say, of what actually gets through. Our destination, an exclusive look at a vault full of contraband.


COOPER (voice-over): As night falls, a shoot-out 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 shoot-out, 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 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, methamphetamine, heroin?

PAUL HENNING, 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): See 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 the 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.

COOPER: That's what that is?

HENNING: 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 very large cartels, very large organizations that control the flow of the narcotics from where it's produced to where it's going. And they'll 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's expendable that they can then talk into bringing this 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, which 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 the line for the narcotics that have been seized in this area. They're boxed up, shrink-wrapped and then sent to be incinerated. 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 inside 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 of the drugs incinerated, more boxes and narcotics will quickly take their place. The cat and mouse game between drug traffickers and law enforcement shows no sign of letting up.


COOPER (on camera): Well, for some illegals, the only way to get past the border is to go underground, literally. Just ahead, the dangerous journey some people take through the sewers. We'll give you a firsthand look.

And here in California and across the country, the high-speed game of chase with often deadly results. Should police pursue cars at high speeds? Are they putting you at risk when they do it? 360, next.


COOPER: Coming to you tonight from Los Angeles, a little more than 130 miles from the U.S. border with Mexico. Crossing that border illegally is, of course, dangerous and sometimes deadly. We all know that. This past weekend was the worst so far this year for illegals. At least six people died trying to get into Arizona. I say at least because six bodies have been found. There could be more victims we don't even know about. Maybe even some underground.

CNN's Rick Sanchez, tonight, takes us on an extremely hazardous journey through the sewers.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You wouldn't think that underneath this 90-pound manhole cover, hundreds, maybe thousands of people, are sneaking into the U.S., through sewer pipes so filthy, so dangerous, city workers won't go inside them without first dropping a hazardous chemical detector to check for methane and other deadly gases. Yet dangerous as they may be, these subterranean tunnels offer huge rewards for smugglers who know them well enough to escort as many as 30 immigrants per trip, charging up to $1,500 pr person for their expertise in avoiding Border Patrol agents like Kurstan Rosberg.

KURSTAN ROSBERG, BORDER PATROL: This is ultimately where the smugglers come out. They enter through a manhole to the north inside the U.S., crawl through the pipes and ultimately come out here.

SANCHEZ: Here in these rancid waters which lead to a grated opening. This is where smugglers use blow torches to bust through.

ROSBERG: So they've got time to work in concealment here, cut the grate, and then the people just run over and hop in.

SANCHEZ: The fence they jump is only 20 feet away. That's how close the Mexican border is. And you see these tall reeds? Agents say immigrants use these as hiding places before heading into the sewer pipes.

But then what? What's it like to actually go inside the sewer? For those answers we contacted the San Diego Streets Department Supervisor Aaron Snelling. The 6'5" he barely squeezes through an open manhole to show us the way. I follow behind. Fifteen to 20 feet underground, I find concrete pipes four feet across, too small to get through without crawling or slouching.

(On camera): And there is no visibility down here?


SANCHEZ (voice-over): The smuggler leading the way may use a cigarette lighter, but for the rest of the immigrants, including women and children, it looks like this.

We're in total darkness to show what you it's really like for these immigrants as they try and get in here. Go ahead now and turn on the light.

(On camera): This is how they have to go through these pipes. Literally feeling their way, because they're not able to see anything. You can see the smudge and the dirt and the mud that's -- you have to walk through to get through this thing. What makes it worse, oftentimes they come in to these pipes thinking they're only going to be in here a few minutes. But it turns out one of these manhole covers will be shut and they'll have to go to the next one, or worse. The smuggler will simply lie to them.

And we could be walking down this tunnel for a couple of blocks.

SNELLING: A good seven to eight blocks this way. Over 1,000 feet.

SANCHEZ: That's a long way.

SNELLING: Yes, it is.

SANCHEZ: To walk in the dark in a tunnel.

SNELLING: By just touch and feel, yes.

SANCHEZ: That's got to be real creepy.

SNELLING: Real creepy.

SANCHEZ (voice-over): Look at size of the cockroaches. They attract rats, and they attract snakes. But Snelling says the biggest danger is simply running out of air. that's why he and his workers only come down here with one of these.

SNELLING: This detects flammables, carbon monoxide or anything that's going to deplete the oxygen.

SANCHEZ: Undocumented immigrants who have been caught in these tunnels say they're taught to travel like a human chain.

(On camera): So, what, do they just feel their way around?

SNELLING: Normally, they're just holding onto the person ahead of them and just touching the walls and feeling their out until they get to a point where someone's tapping on the street.

SANCHEZ: But too often the way out is no way out.

(Voice-over): This is their escape patch. Imagine if a car or a truck passes over as someone tries to get out. That's why in some areas Border Patrol agents now seal the manholes or place sensors around them.

ROSBERG: The sensor will pick up the vibration and send a signal to dispatch. Dispatch will in turn call our agents in the area and they'll respond.

SANCHEZ: If they get there in time. For now, with a 23-mile network of sewage and drainage pipes, snaking under the U.S. border and 500 manholes, the serious border crisis has turned into a deadly subterranean game of catch me if you can.

Rick Sanchez, CNN, San Diego.


COOPER: Catch me if you can. Coming up, car chases out of control and deadly. We're going to show you the dangerous pursuits, the deadly outcomes and one family who are pushing for a law to stop police from chasing at high speeds. But should they be banned?

We'll talk to the parents of one girl who was killed in a high- speed chase. They're now hoping a law named for their daughter will bring an end to those chases.

Those stories and more, when this special edition of 360, live from Los Angeles, continues.


COOPER: And welcome back to Los Angeles, a busy street there in Hollywood. Here in L.A. and across California, high-speed police chases, well, they're a part of life. In 2003 more than 7,000 police pursuits were reported in California. Law enforcement is doing what it can to reduce that number, but they do happen and lives are in danger when they do.

CNN Ted Rowlands investigates.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unbelievable. Look at that. He's out of control. Head on into a pickup truck.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They play out on a daily basis in California and many times end up on TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, there's four vehicles that he just ran into.

ROWLANDS: Police chases, which some consider the ultimate in reality television.


ROWLANDS: Judy Graffe, along with thousands of other viewers, love to watch people on the freeways in streets of California trying to get away from the police. Judy is such a fanatic that she actually subscribes to a service that alerts her with a phone call when a chase is under way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, look at that. Right between those two cars.

GRAFFE: No one single car chase is like another. I mean, anything from what neighborhoods they go to, to the speeds they travel, to who it turns out they are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There he goes. He's out, and he's in the lanes of traffic.

ROWLANDS: Over the years, there have been some memorable California chases. There was the stolen tank in San Diego. There was the hijacked bus in Los Angeles, the driver careening through the streets like a real-life version of the movie, "Speed," without the Hollywood ending.

GRAFFE: That one was absolutely fascinating. To imagine somebody hijacking a bus and thinking they could get away?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's over 120 miles an hour here in...

ROWLANDS: Police have chased practically everything on wheels, from motorcycles...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, look at this, a wheelie, right through traffic.

ROWLANDS: RVs. This chase lasted more than four hours, part of it off-road. Everyone seemed relieved when this ended.


ROWLANDS: 7-Up received some free advertising while police pursued this stolen truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look out. Spinning out...

ROWLANDS: There's even been a case of ambulance-chasing, literally. Sometimes the suspect runs; many times they give up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's a foot chase, and we'll see if the officers -- he runs out of steam.

ROWLANDS: This person decided to turn things around, putting the car into reverse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very bizarre behavior.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It went through the interchange, continuing northbound onto 405...

ROWLANDS: And, of course, there was the ultimate celebrity pursuit, O.J., the slow-speed chase seen live around the world.

GRAFFE: Who knew where that was going to go? I mean, it was anybody's guess. And so I think that sort of hooked me into car chases.

ROWLANDS: As for the question of why so many chases here? many people think California is unique because there are more freeways and more cars. But Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton points to the people.

WILLIAM BRATTON, CHIEF, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: You got a lot of nuts here, that's what makes it so unique, quite frankly.

ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: So the question is what to do about those nuts? Those police chases come with very grave risk and often the victims are simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. That's why a lot pursuits should be banned says one family. We'll look at that next.

And later, from the far East, the extreme sport that is taking California by storm. It's called drifting, and it is spreading maybe to your town. This is 360, live from L.A.


COOPER: Well, before the break we showed you some of the well- known high-speed police chases that are not only down right dangerous, they also can kill.

The fact is here in California, according to the "Christian Science Monitor, on average, every week someone dies from a police pursuit. That's why the push to ban them is generating some ground.

CNN's Randi Kaye has more.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): January 22nd, 2002. It was 6:00 p.m. and the sky was clear, the sun had gone down.

The Priano family of Chico, California, was headed out for what should have been a fun evening for the four of them.

CANDY PRIANO, DAUGHTER KILLED IN POLICE PURSUIT: Right before the crash, I heard the kids laughing, Steve and Kristie were laughing in the back seat and I'm looking out the window thinking, I'm the luckiest mom in the world.

KAYE: Candy Priano and her family had no way of knowing across town a 15-year-old girl had just stolen her mother's car to go joy riding. Neither driver had any idea they were on a collision course.

Police were on the move after being told the girl was a runaway. It was a low-speed chase through neighborhood streets, until the very end. When for some reason, the girl floored it. The Prianos never saw her coming.

(On camera): Kristie Priano was in the family van with her parents and her brother. They were on their way to a basketball game at Kristie's school.

But as the Prianos drove through this intersection going this way, little did they know another car was heading this way. It was fleeing police. It slammed right into the Prianos van, right into Kristie.

C. PRIANO: I hear a thud, and I feel the car spinning and turning. I feel air blowing on my face and then I feel like, we were like a cotton ball, just whirling through the air.

MARK PRIANO, DAUGHTER KILLED IN POLICE PURSUIT: The van was laying in the backyard of a house, took out their entire fence.

C. PRIANO: I said to Steven, do you see your sister? Do you see Kristie? And he didn't answer. She always was so talkative. I mean, if she had been all right, I know she would have said something. So in my heart of hearts I knew that something was really bad.

KAYE (voice-over): The Priano family would soon learn just how bad. Candy and Mark Priano and their son, Steven, were in shock, but alive. 15-year-old Kristie was unconscious.

M. PRIANO: It was like a shaken baby syndrome, only multiplied by 100. She had no visible injuries. It was just like her brain was just shook from side to side and just broke.

KAYE: Kristie went into a coma. She would never regain consciousness. One week after the crash, the Prianos' only daughter, a high school sophomore who they called the spark plug of the family, was gone. And the driver police were chasing? At home, uninjured.

C. PRIANO: My daughter didn't need to die to keep the public safe.

KAYE: Remember, the suspect in the Priano case was an unlicensed 15-year-old girl who had stolen her mother's car. Not a murderer, not even a dangerous felon, but a high schooler who took the family car for a joy ride. Does that warrant a police chase?

BRUCE HAGERTY, CHIEF, CHICO, CALIFORNIA POLICE DEPARTMENT: Yes, because it fits the policy, because it's more than just a vehicle infraction.

KAYE: Bruce Hagerty was not the chief of Chico Police when Kristie Priano was killed, but he studied the case closely and calls it a valid chase.

D. PRIANO: Well, that's very interesting since an innocent young woman, a young girl is dead. What constitutes an invalid uncontrolled chase, then? Six or seven dead people? Fifteen injuries?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They got so many cop cars around here, he's just running over them.

KAYE: So why then do police departments around the country continue to chase? You'd think after so many were injured or killed -- hundreds each year, law enforcement would use safer means to snare a suspect or restrict pursuits to keep innocent bystanders like Kristie Priano out of harm's way.

GEOFFREY ALPERT, PROFESSOR, CRIMONOLOGY AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE: A lot of dinosaur chiefs are still out there and a lot of departments that still have the Wild West mentality of chasing them until the wheels fall off.

KAYE: Geoff Alpert has studied police chases for more than 20 years. So we asked him, should you or should you not chase?

ALPERT: It's not a simple yes or no question.

KAYE: Therein lies the problem. Victims, like the Prianos, want police to chase only violent criminals. But most police departments fear restricting pursuits would only encourage the bad guys to do more harm.

HAGERTY: They know if the police officers have to stay to a certain speed or if they can't pursue under certain circumstances, then the bad guys are going to take advantage of that.

KAYE: Alpert disagrees.

ALPERT: It's a myth. We know empirically from studying departments that have made these changes over the years that while there might be a very small increase for a short period of time, it reverts back to its normal situation.

KAYE: In the four years since their daughter's death, Candy and Mark Priano have been working to curb police chases.

In California, Kristie's Law would restrict police chases to violent felons posing an immediate threat and make it a felony to flee police. But despite the Prianos' efforts, the bill has yet to pass. The Prianos lost more than just Kristie in the back seat of their van that January evening.

C. PRIANO: I hoped to see her graduate from high school with her brother. That didn't happen. I hoped to see her go to college. All of that's gone. Her wedding day is gone. You know? Having babies is gone.

KAYE: A lifetime of memories that would never be made because of a police chase, Kristie's parents say, that should never have happened.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Chico, California.


COOPER: Well, if California's car culture didn't have enough headaches, here comes a new contender. They call it drifting.

Did you ever think that fishtailing and burning rubber could become a legitimate sport? Well, it is. And it may be moving from the track to your neighborhood. That's what authorities are worried about. We'll explain when this special edition of 360, live from L.A., continues.


COOPER: So that's what drifting looks like. The new extreme motor sport that is rapidly gaining fans here in California. It originated in Japan and involves the art and danger of driving a car at high speeds sideways. That's right, sideways. And ready or not, drifting may be about to burst into America's mainstream culture, even its streets. That's what authorities are worried about.

CNN's Peter Viles gives us a look.


PETER VILES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Do not try this at home. It's called drifting. Throwing your car into a controlled skid at high speeds, and then sliding around a racetrack never fully regaining traction. NADINE TOYODA, PROFESSIONAL DRIFTER: Drifting is a big rush for me. That feeling that you get right before you get into like a car accident on the street. Well, I have that feeling the whole time when I'm drifting.

VILES: Nadine Toyoda is an accountant. She's also driving the pink Nissan in this video.

VILES (on camera): How fast are you driving?

TOYODA: Probably about 85, but 85 sideways.

VILES (voice-over): Born in Japan, drifting is now spreading in the United States. There are drifting clubs, drifting DVDs, TV coverage on the cable network G4, drifting events with drifting fans.

TANNER FOUST, PROFESSIONAL DRIFTER: I think it's kind of like the Howard Stern of motor sports, where, whether you love the concept or hate it, once you start watching it, you can't take your eyes off it. You get this emotional connection to it and you just want to see what's going to happen next.

VILES (on camera): Against better judgment, we strapped in with a pro drifter, Tanner Foust.

FOUST: OK, you ready to rock and roll?

VILES: I'm ready to rock and roll.

If you think drifting is easy, watch Tanner's hands. Now watch his car. Looks rough, but it's a surprisingly smooth ride.

Now, as competitive motor sport, drifting is only in its third year in the United States. Think of it as NASCAR's younger and crazier cousin. But the sport is about to get a huge publicity boost in Hollywood.



VILES (voice-over): The movie is the third in the "Fast and the Furious Series," called, "Tokyo Drift." And it will likely bring controversy, if not ignite a new fad. Let's face it, drifting is extremely dangerous.

HUMBERTO-JIMENEZ, CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL: A vehicle at a high speed and putting themselves in a deliberate skid is just a recipe for a traffic disaster. It definitely is. It's just very unsafe.

VILES: Pro drivers strongly discourage what they call street drifting.

TOYODA: It can be very dangerous. It worries me when I go and I'm out in the mountains doing a photo shoot and I see these kids like trying to skid their Honda Civics down the mountain. VILES: Beyond safety, street drifting is a huge financial risk. Serious drifters spend tens of thousands of dollar on everything from racing tires to high-powered engines.

JULIO SANCHEZ, AMATEUR DRIFTER: Well, I work at a used car dealership, so we got a big lot. And when we have a lot of space, I do drifting in my own car. So, it's just pretty fun. You know, you got to do it where it's safe to do it, you know?

VILES: It's fine until the drift hits the wall.

Peter Viles for CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: I could only understand about, half of what that last kid said.

Erica Hill, from "HEADLINE NEWS," joins us with some of the business stories we're following tonight -- Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, the Dow Industrial wiped out gains for the year today. As new figures on inflation, so worries about another rise in interest rates. The Dow fell just over 86 points to close at 10,706. The S&P was down nearly 13, and the NASDAQ kept them company, finishing down for the eighth straight day to close at just over 2,000.

And with falling stock prices and rising interest rates, Americans cut back on their spending last month. The Commerce Department says retail sales gained only .1 percent last month and would have decreased, had it not been for rising gas prices. Consumers are spending less, especially when it comes to cars and furniture, and also at hardware stores.

And one of the factors driving businessmen to strike out on their own? It's apparently the ability to spend more time with their family. An online survey by shows more family time was an equal incentive to the financial rewards and accomplishments of starting a business. Eighty percent of so-called fatherpreneurs said they spent as much or more with their families since they starting their own business -- Anderson.

COOPER: Fatherpreneurs, I like that term, fatherpreneurs. Erica, thanks.

More of 360 in a moment. Stay with us.


COOPER: Tomorrow, on "AMERICAN MORNING," the National Guard on the border. Some wonder if it's spread too thin, with missions from Iraq to Katrina to the border. Some guard members worried they are spread too often.

CNN's Bob Franken, embedded with New Mexico's National Guard on the border. That's tomorrow on "AMERICAN MORNING," starting at 6:00 a.m., Eastern.

That's all for this special edition of 360. We're keeping them honest, live from L.A. Again tomorrow night. Later this week, we'll be in San Francisco and Seattle, on our West Coast road trip.

"LARRY KING" is next. His guest, Al Gore.


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