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Migrants Die Crossing Sahara; ICE Discovers San Diego Drug Tunnel; Germany Now Allows Blank Gender on Birth Certificates; U.S. Officials Say Israel Struck Syria; Shots Fired at LAX

Aired November 1, 2013 - 12:30   ET


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One incident, it shows them getting together in Mayor Ford's car. Mayor Ford then steps out of the car and proceeds to urinate publicly next to, basically, an elementary school, throws something into the garbage. The police officers recover that evidence, and they say that they found in the bag that he threw away a bottle of Iceberg vodka, a bottle of Russian Prince vodka and some McDonald's receipts.

This is not necessarily the kind of behavior that I think Torontonians would want to see of their elected mayor, and, in fact, the police chief of Toronto in a press conference on Thursday said not only is he disappointed, but he also thinks that Toronto citizens are traumatized by what this is doing to the reputation of their city.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Ivan, thanks so much. What a case, Ivan Watson there in New York.

MALVEAUX: See if he survives. A lot of trouble, he's in.

HOLMES: He's been saying no, no, no, for a long time. So it's interesting.

MALVEAUX: This Halloween exhibit one, two, and three might look like ordinary pumpkins, right? But they are definitely not.

Police in Canada say they were stuffed full of cocaine.

HOLMES: Trick-or-treat or coke.

The pumpkins were seized at the Montreal airport from a passenger's luggage. Police say the suspect was a woman, no other details released yet.

MALVEAUX: And a passageway to big profits now discovered, a drug tunnel linking Mexico and the United States is now unearthed.

It is so sophisticated it's being called a "super tunnel." We're going to take you on a tour, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HOLMES: This is a horrible story. The government of Niger is going to be holding three days of national mourning for a desert tragedy we told you about yesterday.

Ninety-two migrants, most of them women and children, perished of thirst when their vehicles broke down as they tried to cross the Sahara Desert.

MALVEAUX: Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and the group was trying to reach Algeria in hopes for a better life.

The government says it is, quote, "profoundly moved by this tragedy." And ICE agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, have now sealed a sophisticated drug tunnel between Tijuana and San Diego.

HOLMES: Yeah, this time they found the tunnel before smugglers could make use of it. Drug cartels spend a fortune on these projects and they're pretty well built. This one had an electric rail and cart system. It had ventilation and lighting.

MALVEAUX: Agents seized more than eight tons of marijuana and 325 pounds of cocaine.

Miguel Marquez in Otay Mesa, California.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the door agents burst down, and behind that is where the tunnel ended on this side of the border, the U.S. side.

Six hundred yards or so south of where we're standing in Mexico just a few feet from the border there is another hole that goes into the ground and where this tunnel zigzags its way to this point here. It always seems to be in a nondescript warehouse area, these tunnels, because they are just along the border.

The three individuals who have been arrested are described as sort of small fish in this, tunnel diggers and transportation types, but law enforcement says the investigation's only beginning and they hope there will be more arrests.

DEREK BANNER, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: And I would offer this to the drug cartels. We are by no means finished here. And don't say we didn't warn you. You go underground, you're going down.

MARQUEZ: Law enforcement officials also say it's the Sinaloa cartel that was responsible for building this particular tunnel. The fact that there was cocaine found there is significant because they believe the cartels are getting more desperate to get coke and hard drugs in.

That said, the amount of hard drugs coming into the San Diego and Southern California region has grown in recent years, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine all on the rise here. The prices for those drugs also declining, so they're not getting the sort of price spikes you'd expect if you have these big busts. The big message here from law enforcement is that whether you're going under the border, over it in ultra light planes as they are been doing a lot more in recent years, or around it by ocean and boats farther and farther up the California coast, that they be surveilled and they will be busted.

Miguel Marquez, CNN, Otay Mesa, California.


MALVEAUX: And did Israeli conduct an air strike this week on Syria? It depends on whom you ask.

The United States says yes. What Israel is saying or not saying, we're going to go live to Jerusalem, up next.


HOLMES: Welcome back to AROUND THE WORLD, and now some of the other stories we are following for you today.

Germany, taking pressure off the parents of newborns who show characteristics of both sexes, a major development really.

Instead of "F" for female or "M" for male, parents can leave the gender blank on birth certificates for children of indeterminate sex.

MALVEAUX: The idea is to avoid rush decisions on sex-assignment surgery. It is rare, but not that rare. This happens in one-in-2,000 births.

Israeli warplanes launched a strike inside Syria this week. An Obama administration official tells CNN that the Israelis attacked a military base, but Israel is not confirming anything.

Matthew Chance is in Jerusalem. Tell us, what do we understand about the timing of this and what the Israelis are saying?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Israelis aren't saying anything. They're being very tight-lipped what they did and didn't do. The Syrians, too, aren't saying anything about this incident, either.

But the confirmation has come to us from U.S. officials, basically saying that they believe Israeli warplanes carried out this strike on Wednesday evening against a missile facility in the town of Latakia to the northwest of Damascus, striking at what they say were missiles and related equipment that might have been transferred to the Lebanese Shiite militia group, Hezbollah.

The whole incident is perhaps casting the spotlight on the extent to which Israel is being drawn into the conflict in Syria.

It's not the first time that Israel has been accused of carrying out strikes. Indeed, back in January, U.S. officials again said that Israeli warplanes had carried out a strike against the convoy of missiles, or a convoy of weapons, that they believed were being transferred to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, as well. Again, Israel not confirming that either.

What it has said publicly is that it does have a red line, a number of red lines. One of them is the transfer of sophisticated weaponry to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon where they believe they could be used against Israel.

They've said they won't take sides in the Syrian conflict, but they will act if they believe such a transfer is going ahead. And so it looks like this attack --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN Breaking News.

HOLMES: Breaking in and interrupting Matthew there, reporting from Jerusalem, because we're getting word of a shooting incident at Los Angeles International Airport, LAX, got aerials coming from affiliate KABC. An incident, let's call this one, not sure of the details at the moment.

MALVEAUX: So what we're looking at here are these aerials. what seems to be officers, it looks like law enforcement officials, some -- it's hard to see.

It looked like they had at some point had pulled weapons, but you see there's a firefighter there, as well who seems to be talking with law enforcement officials. We are also looking at what seems to be the parking lot that is in the area.

Again, we are just getting word that there are evacuations that are taking place outside -- people are coming outside of the airport because of a warning that the airport is giving to those who are inside of a potential incident, and we believe it could be a shooting incident.

HOLMES: Yeah, what we have from the official Twitter account of the Los Angeles International Airport is this. A tweet in its entirety reads this, and this is pretty much all we know. "There is an incident underway at LAX. Law enforcement is on the scene. More information to follow." So that's pretty much all we've got at the moment. You can see emergency services responding there at the moment. Fire, paramedics on scene. Police, as well.

MALVEAUX: And we just saw moments ago too what looked like law enforcement officials with their weapons drawn, that they were looking around that particular area in the parking lot, that they must have had some sort of information that potentially there was a threat in the area to have their weapons drawn as they had. They were huddled. It was a small group of law enforcement officials who were there. You can see them also walking.

We've got a number of cruisers that are there. It looks like the traffic pretty much is -- it's pretty sparse. But we see the firefighters and they're just beginning to mobilize, to assemble, to figure out what is taking place there. We do know that they have called for people to evacuate and that there were people at least running in the scene. We don't have a sense of whether or not there are any injuries, but we do know that there is something that is taking place at the airport that has brought a number of officials. And what it looks like is somebody has been loaded on to that gurney.

HOLMES: We can, you know, -- we can say that that tweet from the officials at LAX was all we had officially. But there have been reports on social media of gunshots. That we cannot independently confirm. But there have been social media reports of gunfire.

We're keeping an eye on it at the moment. We'll bring you any more details as we get them, of course.

MALVEAUX: It seems to be, as if it looks like one of the people that they load on that gurney might be in uniform, that that might be a law enforcement officer. Let's listen in to the chopper pilot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): The person was in a wheelchair but, again, this is all -- this particular scene is breaking out right outside of terminal two, so nowhere near the parking structure for terminal three. So we don't know. Maybe this is a medical condition of one of the folks who was coming out of terminal two. We just don't know at this point. It does appear that one person does have some sort of a medical condition that does require transport. So that is about what we know at this point.

MALVEAUX: So we are watching now. We just heard from the chopper pilot there who was talking about this individual here, this is outside of terminal two, that one person in the wheelchair you see wearing the red has been escorted and is going to be -- looks like is going to be taken away from the scene. We're not exactly sure what the condition of this individual is or what took place inside of the airport, but that is what he was talking about. You see it from the aerial shot from KAB -- well now KCAL we're looking at other pictures.

But - all right, we have just been told that this is at least a third person who is being attended to at the airport. The incident is really unknown. We have very little details about it, but we did see one picture of an individual in a wheelchair wearing red being taken away, another person who apparently looked like they were in some sort of uniform, perhaps a law enforcement official, who had also been treated, as well.

HOLMES: Yes. We're also hearing from the LAPD, the Los Angeles Police Department, that shots were heard at LAX The Los Angeles Airport Police Department is handling this at the moment. The LAX Police Sergeant Belinda Nettles quote spoken to by CNN said there is an incident at LAX. Evacuations are underway. If this is -- we heard from the chopper pilot there, this is outside terminal two.

A mix of airlines fly from out of there. There's some local airlines, but also some international ones fly out of there, Air Canada, Air China, Air France, Air New Zealand and the like, KLM and Virgin Atlantic, but also some local airlines, as well, fly out of that particular terminal. This is one of - for our international viewers who don't know, this is one of the busiest airports in the world. MALVEAUX: We're also getting some word here that confirms that at least that they understand that there were some shots that were heard. They have very little information at the time. But what we're looking at is there leading up to the airport. They're just beginning to assemble law enforcement officials. There's some taxis and they've cleared out the area. There's been an evacuation of the airport.

It does look like it is -- it's pretty sparse. But from the other side of the screen, you see that there are medics that are on the scene. There are at least three people, three individuals that we know of that are being tended to. We're not exactly sure what took place inside of the airport. But at least three individuals are being tended to. One of them was in a wheelchair.

HOLMES: Yes. This is one of the bigger terminals at LAX, of course. You've got the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which is familiar to many people who fly from there to destinations overseas. And this particular terminal, terminal two, as we said, is a mixture of international airlines and a couple of domestic ones, as well. On that side of the airport, you have terminals one, two, and three in a line and then, at the end of that, is the international terminal if you're familiar with it. And on the other side of the airport, you have the other terminals, four, five, six, seven and so on. An extremely big, extremely busy airport.

Not sure what these responders are doing there. Perhaps setting up tents or something for forensics. It's difficult to know. But just what we do know is, according to reports, shots fired, shots heard at LAX We believe this is outside terminal two. And we have seen several people brought out. Why we don't know what their condition is.

MALVEAUX: And, Michael, we're just getting some detail about one of the individuals who was injured in this incident here. He looked like he was wearing some sort of uniform, potentially a TSA worker. We are told that they have to cut his shirt. That he had blood all over him, but that his shirt was cut and that he is being tended to. That was the person who looked like they might have worked for the TSA.

But what you see here, what we're looking at live pictures of people who are -- it looks quite calm as they are leaving, as they are evacuating the airport. I believe this is outside of terminal two. And a lot of people in wheelchairs, but it looks like it is a very orderly procession out of the airport as they evacuate those who were apparently close to this incident.

HOLMES: Yes, of course, it was only a couple of weeks ago, LAX was in the news with those dry ice bombs. That incident was, of course, sorted out. And a person arrested over that.

MALVEAUX: Again, if you're just joining us here, this is breaking news on CNN. This is out of Los Angeles. This is LAX., a very large airport. Used throughout, of course, for international, as well as domestic travel.

There's a report of an incident, a potential shooting that took place. This is outside of terminal two. We have seen at least three individuals who are being tended to. One of them who was being wheeled away in a wheelchair. Another individual who was wearing some sort of law enforcement uniform, potentially a TSA employee, whose shirt had been cut off because of all of the blood. That's according to someone who was on the ground. And you see the pictures there as they are setting up potentially for a triage situation or just to prepare for -- potentially for -

HOLMES: There's a TSA officer there.

MALVEAUX: For the worst.

HOLMES: By the look of it, a TSA uniform. Yes, we'll get off that.

Yes, emergency responders in action there. It's clearly a very active situation at LAX You're seeing pictures elsewhere of another person being brought out on a wheelchair and being brought out in a bit of a hurry too with armed responders escorting him to medical assistance. It's obviously still a very fluid situation. There's a lot of emergency service personnel there and first responders. We're seeing a lot of police cars, a lot of ambulances, paramedics.

MALVEAUX: And one of the things that we also saw was people who were evacuating on foot and also by wheelchair. There's a shuttle bus, of course, that runs between the terminals. And it helps get the travelers getting from one terminal to another. We had a gentleman who was talking about terminal three. We understand that this potential shooting incident took outside - was outside of terminal two. You saw somebody who was just running from the scene. But, overall, it does not look like people are panicked in any way. It looks like they're tending to this -- another person who they are putting into the ambulance there. So not a sense of just how big this incident was or -

HOLMES: Certainly multiple people being treated for reasons we're not sure of at the moment, obviously. Some of them could be medical unrelated reasons. But reports of shots fired at Los Angeles International Airport. Let's listen again to the pilot of this news chopper.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Possible TSA agent who was being wheeled from three over to two right now is hopefully being cared for and treated by these paramedics.

Seven, I do have you there. Got you. OK.

HOLMES: All right. A bit of a - a bit of a frantic scene there now. We've seen a couple of other people brought out. One brought down from the area of terminal three, which naturally neighbors terminal two. We saw somebody else coming out of terminal two earlier and then somebody being brought down in a wheelchair in a big hurry from the area of terminal two, being brought down by armed what looked like SWAT police. And now you can see emergency worker loading somebody else into an ambulance.

MALVEAUX: We've also seen as well, I'm not exactly sure what the purpose of this is, but they're just getting organized on the ground here. But you see that they laid out three different colored tarps, a red, a yellow and a green. Obviously they are trying to organize as best as they can and figure out what has taken place inside of the airport and how to best manage this situation that is very fluid at the time.

We saw -- you see the three tarps that are set out there just outside of that terminal. We saw earlier at least 50 to 60 individuals who were evacuating the airport, very calmly, very orderly. So it's not exactly clear just how -- what the tone is on the ground there. But you see three law enforcement officials again right outside of the terminal.

Earlier we actually saw one with his weapon drawn who was -- seemed to be looking around in the parking lot for someone. It certainly was on a high state of alert because his weapon was drawn. But it certainly looks like, from our vantage point at least here, relatively calm. But it's hard to know what's taking place inside.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly. And as we look there at what we believe is the area of terminal two, and next to that further just on the other side there is terminal three. And just past that is a terminal very familiar to international viewers, the international terminal where hundreds of flights go through and thousands of passengers every day. Terminal two itself has a mixture of international and domestic airlines flying out of it, if indeed terminal two is where this is focused. It's difficult to tell. As you say, one of the victims seemed to be coming from the area of terminal three.

MALVEAUX: And just to reset, if you're just joining us now, this is breaking news. These are shots that are fired at the Los Angeles Airport. LAX as it is known. There are hundreds and hundreds of flights and passengers that travel through this very busy airport. There's been an evacuation, as you see here.

HOLMES: Yes, coming off -- coming onto the tarmac there, obviously being evacuated airside by the look of it, just to get them out of that terminal, being brought down airside and then taken away from there. Passengers who probably were inside waiting for their flights.

MALVEAUX: All right. At least three people injured in this that we know.

Want to hand over our coverage to our colleague, Wolf Blitzer, who's got some more information about what is taking place on the ground.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Suzanne and Michael, guys, thanks very much.