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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
U.S. Warns Of Explosives In Toothpaste Tubes; Is Obamacare A Jobs Killer?; Interview with Michael McCaul; Interview with Chris Van Hollen; Four Arrested in Hoffman Investigation
Aired February 5, 2014 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, a major terror warning tonight for U.S. airlines. What officials believe terrorists are planning with the Olympic Games two days away.
Four people under arrest tonight in connection with the drugs found in Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment, the evidence linking them to the actor, a special report, and you are looking at a live picture right now of a candlelight vigil in New York City. As I said live happening right now in honor of Hoffman. Fans and fellow actors remembering an incredibly talented man. Let's go OUTFRONT.
Good evening, everyone. I'm Erin Burnett. We begin tonight with the breaking news. U.S. intelligence warning U.S. airlines of a new terror threat, toothpaste bombs on Olympic-bound flights. Now the games, of course, are just two days away and officials say that terrorists could try to hide explosives inside of toothpastes or cosmetic tubes. We'll have that sort of not totally a liquid but a soft substance.
Justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is following the story. Evan, obviously it's incredibly specific. You've been working your sources. How serious is the threat?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, it's very specific and very serious threat. This is not every day you hear from the Homeland Security Department asking airlines to be on the lookout for possible explosives being hidden in toothpaste or makeup containers. Obviously for years we've been putting our toiletries in small containers to get on airplanes.
But recently in Russia, they decided to ban all carry-on liquids for all fights going down inside Russia. So what has happened today is that the Homeland Security Department has warned the airlines that this could be an issue and so they've asked the airlines to be on the lookout for it, Erin.
BURNETT: And to your point, we talked about liquids. I'm thinking people think that you realize that toothpaste, at least in most airports I've been in, you don't have to have it in the liquids bag. So I could see that might be one reason why they would target that. What flights are they the most worried about?
PEREZ: Well, you know, one of the things I think they're most worried about from talking to officials is flights from Europe and neighboring countries that are going into Russia. There are not many flights that are coming from the United States except for some charter flights perhaps. What they're worried about is places where they don't have as much visibility, where U.S. intelligence doesn't know as much about what is going on before people get on these flights.
Again, inside Sochi, inside the Olympic venues, I think officials feel it's going to be very safe. They have increasing confidence that the Russians are being able to handle the security there. It's people outside. It's people trying to get to Sochi that they are worried about.
BURNETT: And Evan, I mean, when you talk about here at home though, if there is now the technology to do this sort of thing, right, and to use toothpaste, you know, most people are going to say, if they're going to use it on the games, they're going to try use it on domestic flights or flights in the United States. That would be for a lot of these terrorists, the Holy Grail. Is that a fear?
PEREZ: The Homeland Security Department says that they don't know of any plots or any threats to the U.S. again, one of the things that they're focused on and what they think the terrorists are focused on is on Sochi and Russia and in particular these are groups that are based in Southern Russia, the Dagistan region, which has had a flare up in violence in the last couple of years. So they believe most of the terrorist activity is focused on the games and in disrupting around the games, not necessarily in Sochi itself, Erin.
BURNETT: All right, thank you very much, Evan. Appreciate it. Evan Perez reporting there.
And joining me now is Congressman Michael McCaul, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee. Chairman, thank you for coming on the show, potential toothpaste tube bombs, how much do you know about this?
REPRESENTATIVE MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: I've been briefed on this actually today, but the terror threat has been around for several days. I find it to be very specific and incredible. At 2:00 today, the Department of Homeland Security issued a bulletin to airlines, particularly flights going out of Europe into Russia warning about this potential threat where explosives can be put in toothpaste containers and cosmetics on board either to detonate on the airline itself or to possibly smuggle into the Olympic village.
So this is a serious threat. I know that Homeland Security officials are taking a lot of precautions in terms of tightening up screening at the airports to ensure that these explosives, if they're on airplanes, they'll be able to stop them.
BURNETT: I know there's only so much you can talk about in terms of specifics, but have you also been briefed on other threats that are as specific as the toothpaste and cosmetic possible bomb threats?
MCCAUL: There are threats. The Emirate caucuses, the more extreme faction of the Chechnyian rebels that have trained in Syria, for instance, there is a concern that with that kind of training and trade craft that they can travel from Syria into the Sochi area. That is of grave concern. So is the aviation sector, I think is another area of concern that we believe the explosives. They may be trying to get these explosives on airlines.
BURNETT: In terms of 57 percent of Americans seem to think a terrorist attack is likely at the Olympics, but what about when we hear of threats of toothpaste bombs, you know, Americans still are going through with all this liquid issue domestically, I mean, are you also hearing or concerned in any way that this can have a domestic angle?
MCCAUL: Well, I think the threat from Syria is a Homeland Security angle to it. That's one of our greatest concerns. I know the secretary of homeland security feels that way as well. With respect to the three ounce, I don't think you're going to see that in the United States, but I know these flights that are emanating out of Russia, you'll probably see a tightening up of those screening procedures with any liquid gels, cosmetics and toothpaste.
BURNETT: Are you confident that you have all the intelligence that you need? It always seems like now you find out about toothpaste. Maybe that was a specific credible threat. Once you find out about it, maybe you're likely to thwart it, but there could be something else, right. The horse leaves that barn and we're looking in the wrong place.
MCCAUL: Well, I think that's exactly right. You don't know what you don't know. These black widows they talk about. We don't know how many there are. Any slain Chechnyian rebel can have a black widow associated with him. We know that two black widows have been arrested and taken into custody in France, for instance. We know that six individuals were taken into custody in Austria and were released so this is not some hypothetical thing. It's a real threat to I think the Olympics.
BURNETT: Thanks very much to you, Chairman McCaul.
All right, OUTFRONT next, is Obamacare a jobs killer. So you've heard this ardent discussion today. Republicans say, yes, absolutely. Democrats say no way, you all are stupid. But there is a right answer.
Plus what allegedly happened aboard Justin Bieber's private plane this time. The source says the pilots were forced to put their oxygen masked, but why?
Right now four people facing charges in connection with the drugs found in Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment. We have a special report. As we go to break, you're looking at a live vigil underway right now for Hoffman here in New York City.
BURNETT: Huge battle, is Obamacare a massive jobs killer? Today the man who said Obamacare could cut the labor force by the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs on the hot seat in Capitol Hill. The director of the Congressional Budget Office actually seemed to hit a home run for the Republicans and the Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIIVE PAUL RYAN (R), HOUSE BUDGET CHAIRMAN: Just don't understand this. It's not that employers are laying people off, it's that people aren't working in the work force, aren't supplying labor to the equivalent of 2.5 million jobs in 2024 and as a result that lower work force participation rate, less labor supply lowers economic growth.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's right, Mr. Chairman.
REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), RANKING MEMBER, HOUSSE BUDGET COMMITTEE: So when you boost demand for labor in this kind of economy, you actually reduce the unemployment rate because those people who were looking for work can find more work, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, that's right.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Both things are right. All right, joining me now, Congressman Chris Van Hollen, the top Democrat on the House Budget Committee. You just saw him there. Congressman, great to see you as always. I'm so excited you came on because I know you know so much about this. So obviously --
VAN HOLLEN: Great to see you and welcome back.
BURNETT: Thank you. It's great to be back. Great to talk about stuff like this. So, all right, you obviously heard, you know, Paul Ryan there asking the CBO director about lowering economic growth. He said it would lower economic growth. In that report, as you know, the CBO says the amount of work done would drop 2 percent.
Now that's not the same thing as saying economic output would drop 2 percent. It might a little bit less than that. Just to make the point how significant that is, if you took 2 percent of the economic output of the United States, that's $325 billion a year. That is a lot of money.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, of course, Erin, as Dr. Almendor pointed out, he wasn't putting a dollar value on the ability of somebody to spend a little bit more time at home with the kids or ability of somebody to leave the job of the large employer and take the risk of starting up an entrepreneurial business of their own, number one.
Number two, if you look at the affordable care act in its full context, Dr. Almendor also said that because it reduces the deficit over the 10-year and 20-year window, that actually will help economic growth because if you lower the deficits in the out years on net, that actually spurs economic growth. So what was -- what was clear was the first thing you said, which is that right now if you were to repeal the affordable care act, you get less demand for labor in the economy and that means higher unemployment today.
BURNETT: It's interesting though because if you're going to lower the deficit with fewer equivalent people working, you're lowering the deficit without raising taxes, right?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, what the affordable care act does is reduce expenditures because we got rid of the some of the overpayments in the Medicare program so we reduced the deficit by spending less on Medicare while providing the same services because we're just ending those overpayments. And, number two, there are some revenues that come in through the affordable care act. On net because of the revenues and the reduction in expenditures, that outweighs the additional expenditures from the tax credit. It reduces the long-term deficit and that actually helps long term economic growth.
BURNETT: Look, I hear the point you're making. I have to admit. My personal view on this is I don't trust any number from the CBO when you're looking out that many years because nobody really know what the situation is going to be. It's not a dig at the CBO. It's just economic projections ten years out are kind of superfluous, but to the content of what you're saying, the overall point I understand.
But obviously the effect here, the people who are likely to choose not to work according to the CBO, Almendorf today when he answered Paul Ryan, he says this is the labor supply of lower wage workers. My question to you is if lower wage workers stop working because of Obamacare, then, you know, they're going to be getting government subsidies in the form of health care, right? Where are they getting the money that they're to spend on everything else in their lives?
VAN HOLLEN: Well, first of all, Dr. Elmendorf was clear. He said that the number was a compilation of reduced hours.
And so he made the point that there's some people who would continue to work, but they may take a little less time at work because they have now the ability to spend a little bit more time at home.
So I want to make that point clear. He didn't say that people are just going to stop working. In fact, this sort of underlying notion in some of the questions from our Republican colleagues that Americans are looking for ways to not work, I think, does not properly reflect the attitudes of the American people.
So I think when you're talking about these kind of questions, you're talking about the economic incentives. And, as you know, under our current system, people can access that tax benefit only if they go to work for an employer, because we provide a tax benefit there.
VAN HOLLEN: What the Affordable Care Act does is now allows people to take that tax benefit and go into the exchanges.
BURNETT: Right. I'm just making the point some people who aren't working could theoretically need to be on other government programs to get other money. Right? They are getting the health care benefit, but they may need other money.
But I wanted to ask from what you just said is something I think is interesting. And maybe this is just semantics. But, you know, as a new mother, I notice this. It's interesting to hear Democrats like yourself talking about sort of the social value of women being able to stay home, which is a wonderful choice that everybody should have, if they can, but it's something, especially with this whole war on women thing, it's a social value thing point I actually would expect to hear from the other side of the aisle.
VAN HOLLEN: Well, we would love to have them join us.
In fact, I'm glad you raised that, because, when Senator McCain offered a similar -- a health care plan that also had tax credits that the individual could take with them to purchase health insurance, the Heritage Foundation and conservative groups heralded that as the ability to end job lock and allow people to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams or spend more times with their families.
So, when Senator McCain proposed a similar idea, Republicans and conservatives thought it was great. Now that it's in the Affordable Care Act or what they like to call Obamacare, somehow, the idea that was good in 2008 is somehow now bad.
BURNETT: All right. Well, thank you very much, Congressman. I always enjoy talking to you about these issues.
VAN HOLLEN: Thanks for having me. Good to be with you, Erin.
BURNETT: All right.
And still to come: much of the United States battered by another powerful storm, nearly one million people without power at this moment.
Plus, new details about what went on in Justin Bieber's private plane and why the pilots allegedly told the flight attendant to stay away from the singer.
And McDonald's responding to accusations it uses pink slime. Remember that story? I'm sorry to tell you it has come back. And we have an answer on what's really in those Chicken McNuggets.
BURNETT: Was Justin Bieber flying high?
A law enforcement source tells CNN that Justin Bieber and his father allegedly refused a pilot's warning to stop smoking pot during a flight from Canada to New Jersey on Friday. The pilot also claims, according to this source, that Bieber and his entourage were verbally abusive to the flight crew.
Susan Candiotti is following the story. It's our "Money & Power" tonight.
Susan, what more can you tell us about Bieber's behavior?
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, apparently, to say the least, it wasn't smooth sailing for the pilots aboard this flight with Justin Bieber aboard.
The pilots allegedly were upset, according to my source, not only that Bieber and his father were verbally abusive and refusing to stop smoking marijuana, but apparently the flight attendant was so upset, that the pilots supposedly had to sell her, hang out near the cockpit, don't worry, just stay around us as much as you can.
But get this, Erin. Not only that. The pilots were supposedly so concerned about the amount of smoke permeating the plane that they actually put on their oxygen masks, because they were worried and they wanted to keep their lungs clear in case they were tested for drugs. They were worried that they might show positive, get a positive reading.
BURNETT: There was so much pot swirling around on the plane?
CANDIOTTI: I'm told, it was so pungent, it was all the federal agents who were inspecting the plane.
So, then the plane lands, right? So then because they search it because of the strong odor.
BURNETT: OK. What did the agents find?
CANDIOTTI: They didn't find anything.
They had dogs alerting to the presence of marijuana, of drugs, but they searched the plane. They searched even some empty bags after everyone had gotten off the plane, bags that -- with an indication that marijuana had been inside. But because there was no proof about where it originated from and who it belonged to, not enough to charge anybody. No one will be held responsible.
BURNETT: But the pilots were wearing oxygen masks because they were worried that something -- they might not be able to fly the plane, they would be so high that...
CANDIOTTI: Absolutely right, if they were tested, that they might get a positive reading.
CANDIOTTI: Now, we didn't get any -- we got a no comment from all of -- from Bieber's representative, and we also got a no comment from the charter company. They said they really didn't want to talk about any of this.
BURNETT: All right, Susan Candiotti, thank you very much.
That brings me to tonight's "Out Take."
And I'm actually not going to talk about how maybe this gives you second thoughts perhaps about pot legalization, because obviously the story illustrates how pot in the safety of your own home can lead to pot in the office and pot in the sky. Now you might think twice about wanting your pilots or co-workers to have the ability to get high whenever the heck they want.
No, we are actually here to talk about Justin Bieber, who sounds like the worst passenger ever. You know the speech the flight attendants give before the plane takes off, you can't smoke even in the bathroom, you go to jail, and you have to use the oxygen masks in emergency situations? Well, as you just heard, Bieber likes to use that as a bad behavior checklist.
Of course, he's not just a menace up there. He's accused of being a bad passenger down here. Remember the assault charge in Toronto which stems from an incident when Bieber allegedly slapped his limo driver in the head repeatedly because the driver refused to turn up the radio?
Fortunately, all of this stuff happened on a private plane and a private car. And that's why, as crazy as it sounds, we are begging you to, and we're endorsing Bieber, keep buying his albums and going to his concerts so he keeps making a lot of money, because we really need to do everything we can to keep him off of public transportation.
Still to come, four arrests in the Philip Seymour Hoffman case, how police are linking the suspects to the actor and Hollywood's addiction to heroin. We have an OUTFRONT exclusive tonight. We're going to go inside one of the most exclusive celebrity rehab centers in the country.
And we continue to watch a growing vigil happening right now in New York for Hoffman. Actors and fans are gathering in Lower Manhattan tonight.
BURNETT: And welcome back to the second half of OUTFRONT.
Tonight, another harsh winter storm battering the U.S., heavy snow, ice, freezing rain from the Midwest to New England, the never- ending winter, nearly one million customers without power as I speak. And according to FlightAware, 2,800 flights have already been canceled.
Don Lemon is in Boston tonight.
And, Don, it could get worse. Whoa. Don, I have got to say, if you aren't warm in that getup, I mean -- it looks great. All right.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Only for you, Aaron. Only for you.
Listen, it's freezing out here. It's 27. My producer tells me it feels like eight. We have been checking the weather. It's really cold. But you were reading all those numbers. That happened in a different part of the Northeast, because Boston kind of got spared when it came to the ice, so they didn't lose power.
They got a lot of snow, probably almost a foot in most of the areas, if not more than a foot. And just to show you, don't believe me? There it is. That's a lot of snow in order to get to the bottom. Look at that. In order to see grass, you have got to really get down in there, so, about a foot of snow, a little more.
There's still some people out on the roads you can see working and also people just going to and from. They told everybody to stay off the roads today. Nonessential government employees didn't have to go in. And they started very early doing this.
We borrowed this, Erin, from some of the people around here. They're not even doing sand, they're using straight salt. That's what they have been using to keep the roads clear, along with a lot of equipment.
So, there you go, Boston got about a foot of snow. Much of the Northeast. So as you said, a lot of people without power. But they were spared here.
It's pretty much over, but they could get a little bit more snow. We know the possibility of another storm coming this weekend, Erin.
BURNETT: That's right. I hope Joe Namath doesn't ask for his hat back.
LEMON: Do I look like Hartman?
BURNETT: It looks like you're going to get the Sochi beat.
LEMON: Do I look like Hartman?
BURNETT: Thank you very much to Don Lemon.
Look, when you get to cover the weather, you've got to have fun.
Well, after his run-ins with the law, you'd think the last thing George Zimmerman would want to do is look for a fight. Today, a promoter announced Zimmerman is going to fight rapper DMX in a celebrity boxing match. This announced on the same day that Trayvon martin would have turned 20. Zimmerman is willing to fight anyone to prove his passion for boxing, says the promoter. A rep says the match is not officially confirmed. Many are speaking out against any match that involves Zimmerman, including a petition to cancel the event.
Well, right now, a candlelight vigil underway here in New York to pay tribute to Philip Seymour Hoffman. Matt Damon is among many actors gathering outside the labyrinth theater where Hoffman was the artistic director. Meanwhile, four people have been arrested tonight on drug charges in connection with the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman.
One of them, a suspected dealer, has been identified. He's been identified as 57-year-old Robert Vineberg. He even had the late actor's number programmed into his cell phone.
New York City police picked the suspects overnight, brought them in for questioning after investigators found the Oscar winner dead on Sunday with a needle in his arm. And as we now understand, about 50 packets of heroin. The medical examiner ruled Hoffman's cause of death inconclusive pending toxicology results, and those could actually take a few weeks.
But friends are remembering Hoffman tonight with a prayer vigil.
Jason Carroll is on the story for us. He's outside Hoffman's apartment.
And, Jason, I know you've been covering this investigation, breaking a lot of these headlines.
What are you learning about the raid that happened?
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that raid happened last night as you said. Basically police got a tip that someone at that apartment building located not far from where we are right now outside of Hoffman's building was actually selling Hoffman drugs. Four people under arrest.
But we're told that tonight that one of the -- one of those who was arrested, a young woman, 22 years old, her attorney basically saying she was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time and during her arraignment tonight, she plans to plead not guilty. In fact, we're hearing that most likely that all four will end up pleading not guilty. Police ended up finding 350 -- 350 small baggies of heroin at the apartment building.
In question, those baggies labeled red bull and black list. Now, those baggies were labeled different from the bags of heroin found here at Hoffman's apartment. Those baggies were labeled ace of spades and ace of heart.
I know you were talking about the one man, Robert Vineberg. Apparently, police found the most amount of drugs in his apartment. In addition to that, again, they found his cell phone which contained Hoffman's phone number.
Vineberg is a man who is well known in downtown New York. He is a jazz musician, played with Wyclef Jean at one point on his Facebook page. A number of people coming out and supporting him saying he's being used as a scapegoat for police wanting to find someone to arrest for this crime as soon as they could. One of his neighbors who we got a chance to speak to a little earlier today also coming to his defense.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER, ROBERT VINEBERG'S NEIGHBOR: He's honestly one of the nicest people I've ever met. Smart. Yes. He goes out of his way to be nice, knows everything about film, music, art, literature. Great guy honestly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: But ere in this neighborhood the focus is not on those who were arrested. The focus obviously is on Hoffman. Right around the corner, you mentioned that candlelight vigil that's taking place, and during that vigil, what I'm told is that it wasn't even talked about Hoffman the actor. It was talked about Hoffman, the man, loving father, the loving friend, loving partner. So, that is what is taking place here tonight in the West Village -- Erin.
BURNETT: Jason, thank you very much.
Jason talking about the men who have been brought into custody here. I want to bring in Paul Callan, a former New York City homicide prosecutor and CNN legal analyst.
So, Paul, can these drug leaders, assuming that they have either suspected at this point, but could these four men be charged with Hoffman's murder?
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, they won't be charged with that. As a matter of fact, I spoke this evening to approximately four former Manhattan prosecutors about this very subject, many of them were involved in narcotics cases and homicide cases. None can remember a single case in the last 25 years where a drug dealer was charged with the death of an addict.
Now, occasionally, you might see charges if, say, a needle was actually used and the drug was administered by a drug dealer or if the drugs were adulterated in some way, they mixed something in and the addict didn't expect that. But for a straight sale, you never ever see a prosecution of the seller.
BURNETT: So, but in this case, let's just able to say that they're able to ascertain the Philip Seymour Hoffman by the ATM, that they can identify the other man in the picture and they can identify the heroin that change hands and find that in his apartment. Let's just say they could do all that.
BURNETT: That still isn't enough because it would seem that if you're not able to charge people in those cases -- I mean, if you were able to charge them, you'd have a lot fewer people thinking it was worth it to deal drugs. CALLAN: Well, I think that's very true, but the thought process is, number one, that jurors will look at these cases and say, hey, the addict knew what he was getting himself into when he was buying the drugs. Is it fair to charge the dealer with homicide?
But the second thing is a more subtle problem. It's causation. With an addict, he's got a lot of drugs in his system. How do you prove that the drugs that were sold actually caused the death? Maybe he shot up with somebody else's heroin in the morning?
It's not as easy to prove as you might think even on the fact pattern you just outlined.
BURNETT: And is it -- do you think there will be any difference in this case because of the high profile nature of the deceased, of Philip Seymour Hoffman. This isn't a regular person? I mean, this is a celebrity.
CALLAN: Well, he is a regular person before the law. And I think it irritates a lot of people, a lot of families out there with addicts in the family who have died and there was no investigation of who sold them the drugs.
CALLAN: So there's a lot of public scrutiny in this case. We have arrests already. I think there will be different treatment, in that the cops are more aggressive in investigating this because they're under public scrutiny. So, I think these drug dealers will wind up being punished --
BURNETT: Punished what? Like what would happen to them?
CALLAN: You know, it's a slap on the wrist, because, you know, we've had all of this talk about drug laws being too severe, people going to jail for drug crimes.
BURNETT: A lot of celebrities have been arguing about --
CALLAN: Should have diminished sentences now. Under New York laws now not the Rockefeller laws where you'd go to jail for a long time, all of these drug dealers can get probation under the new laws.
CALLAN: Absolutely, yes.
BURNETT: That's interesting. Makes you think twice about the recent debate. Thanks to Paul.
Well, the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman has raised new awareness to the growing heroin problem of the country. You know, for weeks, they've been talking about this on the program. Nationwide, heroin use has surged doubling -- more than doubling over the past 10 years.
BURNETT: Our Deborah Feyerick has been looking into the problem in New York City, which is a major heroin pipeline for the U.S.
And, Deb, why are we seeing the spike in heroin news?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, it's simple. The more you make, the more you sell. And what we're seeing is heroin streaming into New York City, creating new users and therefore greater demand. That means more seizures, more arrests and more overdoses. And one former high level drug official that I spoke to described heroin as this monster that you can't kill. It has always been lurking. It has never gone away.
The question, how did it get here? You have to go back to the 1990s when Colombian drug traffickers began flooding the city, the whole eastern corridor, with this high purity/low priced heroin. So, instead of $100,000 a kilo, it actually went to $60,000 a kilo.
FEYERICK: It made it much cheaper for people to buy and it was much pure, 60, 70, 80 percent more pure. That's compared to the old stuff which was just 6 percent purity. So, it really changed. It now costs between $6 and $10 a packet.
BURNETT: Wow. What you're getting is a lot stronger which is becoming even more deadly than it used to be. But, you know what, Deb? It's interesting. I feel like heroin used to have -- you know, had more of a stigma to it 10 to 15 years ago. It was too hard of a drug or too low class of a drug. But that's changed, right?
FEYERICK: Absolutely. That's because back in the day people thought of heroin as used by these junkies, and dark alleys, injecting themselves. But then, back in the '90s with this high purity, low cost heroin, young people began actually snorting it because it was so pure.
And they did this at parties. They did this with their friends. It created a much different kind of clientele. And it also moved out to the suburbs.
One former narcotic official tells me that, you know, it used to be rare to see a single kilo of heroin. Now, authorities are seizing up to 20 and 30 kilos at one time. And last year, DEA agents confiscated 144 kilograms of heroin. That's $43 million worth. And to put that in perspective, that's 20 percent of seizures nationwide.
BURNETT: That's amazing. I mean, you talk about where they buy it, you now see with Philip Seymour Hoffman but what we understand a very popular, hip, upper class part of Manhattan, you know, at an ATM, being able to do a drug deal like this. This is a sort of situation in New York you would have thought about 20 years ago.
But, you know, Deb, one of the scariest things about the heroin crisis is who is using it, exactly what we're seeing with Philip Seymour Hoffman and in those sorts of neighborhoods. A big change.
FEYERICK: Yes. There's definitely been a big change. They found 70 bags of heroin with him.
When you think about it, an addict can use 10 bags a day, somebody who's got the money to sustain that.
FEYERICK: So, you put it in perspective, this could have been a week long binge, even though to us, to you and I, it sounds like so much.
But the sellers are targeting much younger clientele. You can even discern by what they're labeling these. There are packets that are labeled government shutdown, NFL, Lady Gaga, even Obamacare. So, it's clearly people who are sort of in the know, who are educated.
FEYERICK: Secondly, there are heroin mills. What's fascinating about them is that these drug traffickers from Latin America are actually taking the drugs from the South, and they're moving them into locations that are ready to go. That's where they're cut. That's where the heroin is cut, processed, put into these envelopes and then distributed as fast as possible, not just here in New York City, but also to other regions.
So, it's a hub as you mentioned.
BURNETT: That is just incredible. And those names I think really bring it home.
BURNETT: All right, thanks so much, Deb.
FEYERICK: Of course, thanks.
FEYERICK: A heroin named Obamacare. Is it that addictive?
Still to come, you are looking at a live picture of a vigil from Philip Seymour Hoffman underway -- actors and fans gathering to pay tribute tonight. And Broadway is also about to honor the actor. And Hoffman's struggles with heroin, why he is not the only one in Hollywood with this deadly addiction?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I first heard of his death I was absolutely gutted because he's me and I'm him.
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BURNETT: And I want to take a quick check in with Anderson Cooper with a look at what's coming up on "AC360."
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Erin. Yes, we're going to have much more obviously on the breaking news. The news specific terror threat on the eve of the opening of the Olympic Games, live report from Sochi. We'll also speak with national security analyst Bob Baer and Peter Bergen.
And latest on the investigation to the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. We're going to ask legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin if the person or people that sold him heroin can be charged with a crime.
And up close look also tonight at the street level fight against heroin. Randi Kaye spent the day with DEA agents, with dealers and addicts getting high in plain sight.
Also, nonpartisan facts versus political spin. There's been a lot of political spin on whether the Affordable Care Act will really kill millions of jobs. Tonight, we're keeping them honest.
Those stories and tonight's "Ridiculist", a lot more at the top of hour, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Anderson, we're looking forward to all of that. Thank you.
Philip Seymour Hoffman checked himself into a detox center for a heroine addiction last May. And, you know, you may remember that. Obviously, he had been fighting this problem for quite some time. Like a lot of other stars including Robert Downey Jr., Lindsay Lohan, Charlie Sheen, he did it in the privacy of a drug treatment facility.
Now, a lot of these facilities that cater to the rich and famous are very cozy and very expensive. Some might say more like spas, but what exactly happens in these places? Why are they so popular?
David Mattingly went to Malibu to find out.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was a beloved actor and to the public at large, apparently acting as if nothing was wrong. But Philip Seymour Hoffman's losing battle with heroin was not unusual.
DAVID SACK, PROMISES TREATMENT CENTERS CEO: Getting drugs and obtaining them, if you were highly affluent and traveling in artistic circle, is not difficult.
MATTINGLY: David Sack is the CEO at Promises Treatment Centers, secluded in the quiet hills of Malibu. The center is cantered to the affluent, reportedly treating Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Charlie Sheen.
SACKS: There are a lot of facilitators. You know, if you're in a performing arts circle or artistic circle, there are many people who view drugs as part of the creative process, as part of the lifestyle. They're not necessarily judged the way much of society looks at drugs.
MATTINGLY: A month of rehab here can exceed $45,000. But look past all the spa-like pools, gardens and gourmet meals, and you'll see an alarming trend. Administrators say the rate of opiate addiction among clients here is five times greater than it was a decade ago. And a quarter of those patients are hooked on heroin.
(on camera): Among addicts in show business Hoffman was viewed as an exception, apparently kicking the habit as a young adult, he claimed to be clean and sober for more than two decades.
How unusual is it for someone to relapse after 23 years?
SACKS: Well, it's unusual. In other words, that in general, the longer someone is sober, clean, or abstinent, the longer they're going to go. So, after the first year, relapse rates drop significantly.
MATTINGLY: What could have happened to send Hoffman back into a deadly addiction so long is not known and deeply disturbing to others walking the same path of recovery.
MACKENZIE PHILLIPS, RECOVERY & TREATMENT ADVOCATE: When I first heard of his death I was absolutely gutted because he's me and I'm him.
MATTINGLY: Actress Mackenzie Phillips first tried heroin at age 16 and at one time kicked the habit for 10 years. Arrested for possession in 2008, she now promotes recovery center in Pasadena.
PHILLIPS: Helping clients to live and live well without drugs and alcohol is the goal.
The problem is exacerbated by money and access and enablers as it is with any addict. I will never be able to have someone get me to say that this is a Hollywood problem. You know, I mean, what, every 19 minutes an addict dies from an overdose. It can't just be a Hollywood problem. We report on it.
MATTINGLY: It's true that heroin is cheap and accessible in all walks of life. But Hoffman's tragic exit from a stage where he performed so brilliantly gives audiences all over the world a view of a growing problem in a very personal way.
David Mattingly, CNN, Los Angeles.
BURNETT: I want to bring in Ken Seeley, founder of Intervention911.com.
And, Ken, you heard Mackenzie Phillips just say that the drug problem gets worse when you have access and you have money. I mean, you heard David Mattingly reporting there, to stay at Promise there in Malibu, $45,000 a month. I mean, there are very few people in the world who can afford that sort of treatment.
But how common is heroin? Are these opiates in that celebrity cool scene?
KEN SEELEY, INTERVENTION911.COM: Yes, heroin is all over Hollywood right now. It's all over the whole country as you've been talking about all week. And we have to start looking at it as a disease. You know, this is a disease that's killing 100 people a day in this country, and we need to hold people accountable to their recovery. That's the key here. We have to hold people accountable.
BURNETT: And why is it so popular in Hollywood? You heard the statistics there, that 25 percent of the people that go into these centers have heroin or other opiate addictions that, and that number has increased five times just over the past decades. I mean, that is a stratospheric statistic.
So, why is it? Why is it so popular?
SEELEY: It's so easy to get. It's so easy to get. The things they're lacing it with today with the Fentanyl, it's even making it more fatal.
You know, it's really about once you know somebody that has an addiction, making sure that they are held accountable to their recovery process. And it's not a ten-day process. It's a long-term process. Like doctor diversion programs are three to five years. That's what needs to happen.
And what about the relapse situation? Again we heard that talked about in the piece. Philip Seymour Hoffman had apparently been clean for 23 years. Obviously who knows if that's true if he'd had other periods of relapse that he just disguised very well.
But is this -- you know, when you hear people for example talk about going to rehab for alcohol, they talk about how for the rest of their lives it's difficult to be in the room with it or they don't want to have it being served at the table they're at. For some people, that's very hard. Is it even harder when you're talking about recovering from heroin?
SEELEY: Absolutely. Heroin's one of the most difficult drugs to detox and stay off of for long term. But once somebody is diagnosed with an addiction, that's the key component that's missing. You know, Hollywood isn't holding their people accountable to a long-term program.
I mean, look at -- we just lost many people in Hollywood from overdosing. But the reality is that why isn't Hollywood holding people accountable like the doctor diversion program, the drug courts program, the pilots program?
People are dropping like flies. It's not fair. It's inhumane. BURNETT: Well, I guess it's also something with a lot of these drugs unfortunately somehow, Hollywood thinks it's cool and makes it seem cool to a lot of other people, especially younger people around the country.
But what about these facilities? You know, they have access to the gourmet meals, the spas, the gyms. It just seems those places are like a vacation in a sense when you look at the pictures of the facility David was at, $45,000 a month. Is that better treatment than most Americans can get somewhere else? Or is that just an inflated price tag?
SEELEY: No. I think the treatment there is amazing. It's really great treatment. Just because you're an addict doesn't mean you need to go to the Salvation Army to get treatment. You know, you can get treatment in these high-end places and get the help you need.
But the most important part of that is that the addict has to hit a rock bottom as we all know. There needs to be a consequence that's going to be long term. So, like the doctor diversion program, they lose their license. That's a long-term consequence. And that's what we need to develop for these people in Hollywood.
You cannot work if you're not going to be compliant to your program or recovery. That's what we have to do it. We have to do that for them.
BURNETT: Ken, thank you very much.
And still to come, McDonald's has served billions of meals as you know. Anytime you drive into one. But what's the deal with the pink goop?
Yes. Special investigation courtesy of Jeanne Moos. She's next.
BURNETT: McDonald's has taken plenty of heat over what's really in their chicken. And now, they're fighting back.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We make a cut.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): How do we get from this to this? Irresistible little asteroids of battered chicken, mysterious in their origin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did they just throw a whole chicken in a blender and make a McNugget?
MOOS: Even more disturbing, the pink elephant in the room.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are legitimately a McNugget? Is there pink goop?
MOOS: This pink goop.
A photograph that has snaked around the Internet with a caption, can you guess what McDonald's food item this is?
It's said to be the entire chicken. Eye eyes, guts, bones, ground up into mechanically separated poultry.
Not us, says McDonald's. Photo hoax. But pink goo won't go away.
(on camera): For years, McDonald's has been trying to kill this photo.
(voice-over): And now, McDonald's of Canada has taken the goo by the horns directly addressing the question in Super Bowl commercials seen only in Canada.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's actually in the nuggets?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there any pink goop?
MOOS: Nope, nada, none. McDonald's wants you to see what's in their McNuggets so they've released a video tour. Starting with whole chickens, the breast meat is set aside to make McNuggets.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Dumping it into the grinder and adding the ground chicken breast meat to the blender with some seasonings and chicken skin.
MOOS: That's pretty much it. Ground up breast meat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's the pink goop image and here's what we have. It's very different.
MOOS: Yes. Beige goo, just kidding.
Two independent food science experts told CNN that McDonald's seems to be giving the straight scoop. Of course, there's nothing healthy about all the fat and salt in McNuggets.
There is one other secret revealed on the tour.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The McNugget shapes, the ball, the bell, the boot, and the bow tie.
MOOS (on camera): The ball, the bell, the boot, the bow tie? Do you see any of those things? Is this a ball? Is this a bell? There's a boot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am puzzled by the bow tie. Maybe that's a bow tie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, that's a boot.
MOOS: Does this look like bow tie to you?
(voice-over): One thing they're no not making McNuggets into is the shape of a snake.
(on camera): Turn it into bow tie.
(voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: Somehow I don't feel much better.
"AC360" starts right now.