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Battling Heroin a National Crisis; Grieving Mothers Lose Kids in East California; Obama Speaks About Bringing Internet, Digital Devices to Schools; Obama Poll Numbers Tumble; Underage Sex Workers Rescued in Super Bowl Bust.

Aired February 4, 2014 - 11:30   ET



PHIL DREWISKE, RECOVERING HEROIN ADDICT: After he did it, this rush I had -- I can't find the right word to explain it. It was out of this word.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Drewiski said he was immediately hopelessly addicted, spending up to $1300 a week, eventually dealing heroin to get his fix for free.

(on camera): Did you realize how crazy and dangerous this was getting?

DREWISKE: Deep inside, I knew. I really did know.

TUCHMAN: It didn't matter?

DREWISKE: It got to a point, I don't care.

TUCHMAN: Did you think you were going to die?

DREWISKE: Many times. It got to a point, I always told myself, I would rather die high than sober.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Phil Drewiske ended up in 13 different treatment centers. At the Hazelden Center, he met success.

Dr. Marvin Seppala, the center's medical director, said heroin is a national crisis.

DR. MARVIN SEPPALA, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, HAZELDEN CENTER: This is the first time in my career, over 25 years of working in addiction, that I have seen this kind of death rate.

TUCHMAN (on camera): The latest government figures are startling. Between 2002 and 2012, the number of heroin users in the United States more than doubled.

(voice-over): At the Hazelden Center, they believe it is directly related to people using drugs like oxycotin.

SEPPALA: They're seeking a better high at a cheaper price. And it is so easy to get hooked on the pain-killing medications. That's what's driving this whole crisis.

TUCHMAN (on camera): You think you are vulnerable to the possibility of being addicted to heroin again sometime?

DREWISKE: Every day. It just takes that one moment, that one split decision.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Phil Drewiske has been clean for over two years. He is proud of himself. So is his family. It is a daily battle.

(on camera): Do you ever miss the high from the heroin?

DREWISKE: Yes. If anyone said no, they would be lying.

TUCHMAN: Gary Tuchman, CNN, Hudson, Wisconsin.


ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Coming up in a few moments, we are tracking the president of the United States and his live movements today. He is at a Maryland middle school today. They have set up the auditorium with the flags and the backdrop. The backs of those heads all waiting to hear what he has in store for schools across the country, maybe yours included, when it comes to getting your kids online and making sure it is an opportunity for all. His words coming up in just a moment.



BANFIELD: There are two unsolved murders in east California. Those murders are putting the spotlight on an epidemic of gun violence in that community. How about this? In 19 days, that mother, flanked by her boys, she lost her two only children. Both of them randomly. Yet, sadly, her story is not rare. The city is apparently full of grieving mothers losing their kids. The level of the violence is on par with a war zone. Mothers are praying for protection for those that may be the next random target.

Kyung Lah law has the eye-opening story that will break your heart.


DINYAL NEW, GRIEVING MOTHER: To have to bury both my kids --

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dinyal New doesn't have the strength to finish the sentence. No mother could.

NEW: Emotionally, it hasn't hit me yet but I know it will, because I keep thinking about them.

LAH (on camera): Your life changed in 19 days.

NEW: January 1st, my life changed. LAH (voice-over): That was the day her son, Lee, just 13 years old, was walking home from the Boys and Girls Club. The eighth grader was a few minutes from home when he was shot 28 times, Oakland's first murder of 2014. Dinyal buried her youngest days after the funeral. The flowers of Lee's memorial were just beginning to brown when two blocks from home, gunfire. She ran towards it.

NEW: The suspect still on top of the car just shot into the car, just shot into the car multiple times. I see my son shot up. I just broke down crying.

LAH: 19-year-old Lamer in his first year of college, killed instantly. His body riddled with bullets. In three weeks, Dinyal went from a mother of two to a mother of none.

Simuel MacDonald was their cousin. He is only 11 years old. His mom wanted us to talk to him.

(on camera): Do you know why this happened?

SIMUEL MACDONALD, COUSIN: The people who did this, they just wanted to be killing just to be killing people.

LAH (voice-over): In east Oakland, Simuel's mom, there is no childhood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Touch everyone that's out here today, god.

LAH: The family gathered where automatic gunfire killed Lemar, broken glass still in the street. As the son said, they walked down the street to the second memorial, where Lee died. The children watch the story so familiar to the mothers gathered here.

ALICIA WATERS, MOTHER: I had to bury my firstborn six years ago.

LAH: Her son was shot to death.

WATERS: No parent ever, ever should have to bury their kids before them, never, especially like this. This is crazy.

NAOMI HARRY, MOTHER: I have a 19-year-old that was victim of violence.

LAH (on camera): How many mothers in this neighborhood are like you?

HARRY: Not just neighborhood but the city is full of mourning mothers.

LAH (voice-over): Todd Walker is a mortician in east Oakland.

TODD WALKER, MORTICIAN: We just buried her 13-year-old son. And Wednesday, she is back in here making arrangements for her 19-year-old son.

(on camera): How sick are you of having to put children into these caskets? WALKER: I'm tired of it. I'm tired of it. I go pick them up. I see them firsthand at the coroner's office. I have to identify them right off the top. It is horrible. It is horrible.

In this community, violence is a regular, every day thing. They are shooting them every day. All these kids do not have an education but they have a gun. There is something wrong with that picture.


NEW: This is Lemar and Lee's rooms.

LAH (voice-over): Her sons had separate rooms but slept together. They were that close. Shoes in the same spots they left them.

NEW: I want the little things back. It makes me mad these people took that from me. I just want to come home. I just want to come home and get Lee ready for school.


LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Oakland, California.


BANFIELD: We're continuing to watch the president as well as it time. He is in Maryland. He is at a middle school about to make a big announcement about getting digital devices into classrooms across America. Not just devices, either, band width, a lot of it. We are going to bring that to you live, next.


BANFIELD: In an age where toddlers use iPad, it can be shocking that not all schools have Internet. You are looking live at about a major announcement he is making about getting more Internet and digital devices into schools. He is partnering with companies to get these in there sooner than later.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Teachers and principles are working hard to prepare students like you with the skills you need for a new economy, not just basics of reading, writing and arithmetic, but skills like science, technology, engineering, critical thinking, creativity. Asking what do you think about that idea and how would you do things differently? Now, we still have more work to do to reach more kids and reach them faster and some of the ideas that I've presented will require Congress to act.


But while Congress decides what it is going to do, I said at the State of the Union, and I want to repeat here today, I will act on my own wherever I have the opportunity to expand opportunity for more young people, wherever I have a chance to make a difference in their lives, I am going to act.


BANFIELD: The president announcing big money from tech and telecom companies.

I want to bring in Wolf Blitzer, who is watching this along with me, live. He's been watching from D.C.

The president has had a tough year. His poll numbers have tumbled. Some of the numbers have taken an uptick. It is not all good news. He is still struggling when it comes to Americans perception of how he is doing.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: Still mid to low 40s. 45 percent right now. It was 41 percent in October. 44 percent. Remember, if you take a look at the margin of error in these polls, basically, a little bit of an uptick. I wouldn't go overboard. He still has more people disapproving than approving. That's a problem right now. It tends to push potentially vulnerable Democrats away from the president. If you take a look at some Democratic Senators, some don't want to be seen in photo opportunities with the president, whether it is Mary Landrieu in Louisiana or Kay Hagen in North Carolina or Mark Pryor in Arkansas. They're reluctant to be overly seen with the president because it could undermine their ability to get reelected in November. The White House certainly understands that. Democratic strategists understand it. It is one of the problems you have when your job approval numbers are not as robust in the mid-50s, low 60s, shall we say, than they are in the mid-40s.

BANFIELD: Well, he can't have another term as president. So everybody is looking at least for the Democratic nominee. It seems to be Hillary Clinton.

I want to pop up another poll, Wolf, so we can look at where her numbers stand. We have been talking a lot about this in the last few weeks. She is legions ahead of any other potential candidate. For Democrats choice for nominee for 2016, she is hauling in 70 percent next to a more liberal candidate that might get 10 percent and a more conservative Democrat that might say 15 percent. I keep saying it seems like it is hers to lose. We have said that before, a year or so out. We have been very, very wrong.

BLITZER: The last time she ran back in 2007, 2008, it looked like she was well on her way. At this point in that election cycle, the junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, was barely registering. He wasn't even considered a viable candidate. He hadn't announced he was thinking about running for the Democratic presidential nomination. We know what happened after Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina and all the Democratic caucuses and primaries that unfolded. It is still a long time to go. One of these other Democrats could emerge as a strong candidate.

But there is no guarantee she is going to run. Most people think she will run, assuming she is healthy and there is no problem with her health. I think she still wants to be the first woman president of the United States. She has learned important lessons. Some of the blunders she made the last time around, especially not focusing in on some of the caucus states like Iowa, opening up the door to a junior Senator like Barack Obama to go ahead and win in Iowa. She has learned some of those mistakes. She has certainly gearing up a whole team. They are not officially with her. These are outsiders who are supporting her. It is hers to lose. You are right, right now. It is still very, very early.

BANFIELD: Wolf Blitzer, thank you for that as always.

Be sure to watch Wolf at 1:00 eastern and at 5:00 eastern time. So good, we put him to work twice.

More than a dozen children, young, underaged sex workers have been rescued from sex trafficking in the days leading up to the Super Bowl. Super Bowl super bust. We are going to tell you what happened.



BANFIELD: So cops in New York have been pretty busy. The FBI saying that authorities in this area have rescued 16 underage sex workers in recent days. And then arrested more than 45 people for child sex trafficking. It's a massive bust that was part of an operation to combat a spike in child sex trafficking all around the Super Bowl. The agency says some of those arrested may have traveled from other states to prostitute women and children during the Super Bowl festivities.

Joining me now is CNN justice correspondent, Evan Perez.

We hear a lot about this and usually don't get the numbers to support the claim that there is a lot of sex trafficking around the Super Bowl and big sporting events. But this would refute that, wouldn't it?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. This is a big problem, Ashleigh. And in this case, we -- ahead of time, a few days ago, we were on the air talking about this. The FBI told us they were going to mount this operation. They were already working on some of this -- some of these cases. And now we see the result of it. They say that the kids that they were -- they have managed to rescue are aged 13-17, which is a very shocking. Some of them were high school kids who had been reporting missing by their parents. So again, this is something that they have been working on. They -- these are kids apparently that were found in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut. They were working with the authorities there to try to recover some of these kids and try to put them back with their families.

BANFIELD: And that's the next question. Can they? Some of these kids may have been runaways and may not have a family that they can go back to. What are they doing? Just be clear. The kids aren't being charged here. They're being rescued. Those who may have been trafficking them are being charged. But what happens to these little -- these young underage sex workers? PEREZ: Well, that's right. These young people are treated as victims, you know. And the FBI is working with the D.A.s in Manhattan and Westchester and the other jurisdictions to try to get them back with their families. Some of them, like you said, can't go back. And so they are being given medical attention or they're being put in some shelters. So this is a big problem. We have some statistics from the FBI which has been working on this innocence lost project since 2003. They say they have rescued about 3,100 underage young people who are caught up in this exploitation, and the national center for missing and exploited children says that one in seven runaways end up caught up in this.


So this is a very big problem nationally. It's not just this time of year, and just not the Super Bowl, it's around the country -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: Do we know, Evan, anything yet? Have the police said anything about the people they have hauled in on this, what kind of processing they're going through right now, what kind of people are they, who are they, what's going to happen to them?

PEREZ: Well, again, as you said, they come from all over the country. So they're pimping and they're associates. These are people probably involved in other things. Some of them are also involved in trafficking women, you know, for the same purpose. So it's not just kids. They're also trafficking in women, some from outside this country. And again, Ashleigh, this is a problem that shows up not just for the Super Bowl, but also political. There's all kinds of big events that draw a lot of people from around the country. You tend to see this kind of thing -- Ashleigh?

BANFIELD: I think, Evan, what's so interesting, when we did this segment last week, and you and I, like you said, talked about it, there are those who refute that's happening. That, yes, the prostitution levels may be up during these sporting events or these conventions, like you said. But the trafficking itself isn't, and the numbers haven't played out. This is a significant number. 45 is not something to sneeze at.

Evan Perez, justice correspondent, thank you for reporting live from Washington today.

And thanks, everyone, for watching our program today. Good to have you with us.

Do stick around, because we digress. Now we're going to something completely different, international news. AROUND THE WORLD starts right after this quick break.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: A rocky ride on Wall Street. The Dow plunges more than 300 points Monday. Today is looking better. What it means for your money and your 401K, straight ahead. MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, Russia's president arrives in Sochi to see for himself how prepared the city is to host the Winter Games. A live reporting coming your way.

MALVEAUX: And reports of barrel bomb attacks in Syria.