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Outrage Boils Over in Mexico Over Fate of 43 Missing College Students; Freezing Temperatures in Northern Minnesota; Missouri's Governor Said State, Local Law Enforcement Agencies Are Ready for Any Violence; President Obama Caught Chewing Gum in China; CMS Report on Yorkville Endoscopy Revealed Multiple Mistakes; The Ridiculist

Aired November 11, 2014 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, good evening. Thanks for joining us.

Tonight, outrage boils over in Mexico over the fate of 43 missing college students. What really happened to them and exactly who was involved? Parents and protesters are demanding proof in the wake of horrific allegations.

Also a CNN exclusive investigation tonight, stolen gas. Hundreds of gallons of it, police say it paid for with stolen credit cards. It's a scam putting innocent drivers one accident from an explosive and potentially deadly disaster.

We begin, though, with the arctic blast that is a huge swath of the country, around 200 million people in its grip tonight. Wicked cold winter weather that decided to show up early from the Rockies to the heartland, it has crushed the remnants of a relatively mild fall. I am talking snow, bitter winds, freezing temperature in northern Minnesota, getting slammed with heavy snow, temperatures are plunging as far south as Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle. If you are in the thick of it, you have our sympathies. Billings, Montana, one of the coldest places you could be tonight. And Gary Tuchman is there to report on the misery firsthand.

Gary, how bad is it?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, people of Montana are used to freezing cold weather, but usually not this early. Winters is still six weeks away. We're only in the middle of the autumn. Right now, autumn seems like a distant memory.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): It doesn't matter how cold it is. Billings, Montana, billboard installer Mason Hyman does his job. But this frigid cold spell has come much earlier than he's used to.

MASON HYMAN, BILLBOARD INSTALLER: I wear a little bit of extra layers and I would wear thicker gloves but I kind of need to use my fingers a lot for the j hooks down here. TUCHMAN: Montanans are hearty people. But with the upcoming

overnight temperatures plunging close to record lows for the date, downtown Billings, the heart of Montana's largest city is very empty.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just watched the alerts and when it says it's going to be cold, we just bundle up.

TUCHMAN: The average high for this time of year is in the upper 40s. The temperature this past weekend was in the upper 60s. So temperatures have plunged over 60 degrees in just a couple of days. The single digits today, below zero overnight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I moved to Montana, my friend told me if you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes.

TUCHMAN: At the zoo in Billings, potential visitors don't like the weather much. That's why Zoo Montana is pretty much empty. Except, of course, for its inhabitants. These two Siberian tigers just arrived here from a zoo in Florida. This is their first snowfall and first extreme cold snap. This is Ozzie, the grizzly bear, former resident of Yellowstone national park, who got in some hot water for stealing people's food and is now thriving at the zoo.

The animals are doing just fine because they're used to the cold weather. This is Pearson. HE is the Canadian lynx, a native of Montana.

The bald eagle at the zoo is actually shivering. But we're told that's normal behavior for bald eagles who are no strangers to cold weather. Jeff Ewelt is the executive director of the zoo.

JEFF EWELT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ZOO MONTANA: Couple of weekends ago we had our Halloween event. We saw 4,000 people come through the gate. So a 4,000-person day to a three or four-person day is quite a drop for us.

TUCHMAN: Three or four people you expect on a day like this?

EWELT: Three or four people on a day like this.

TUCHMAN: Winter hasn't been even started yet. It is still the middle of autumn. But extreme winter weather is here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now I would love to have a buttery croissant. Do you have one with you while you're doing this billboard?


TUCHMAN: There are lots of other billboards to on this week and the temperatures are expected to remain frigid.


COOPER: Gary, is that the first interview you've done on a top of ladder standing on a billboard? That was pretty cool. TUCHMAN: I think it is. You know, I've done interviews on trains,

buses, standing on top, but never a billboard. That's a first.

COOPER: How cold is it going to get in the days to come?

TUCHMAN: Yes, so tonight below zero, five to 10 below zero, near record low for the date, below zero the next night. And then it is going to warm up a little bit, but it's not expected during the day to go above the freezing mark for the next eight or nine days.

How cold is it outside? We wanted to, Anderson, do the popular demand, give an encore presentation of a scientific experiment we've done in the past with boiling water in this container, courtesy of the rock creek coffee shop in Billings. We're going to turn this into snow. Instantaneously, when you throw this boiling degree water, it turns into snow. So watch.

And you can see. That's what happens. One thing I want to say, Anderson, a lot of people want to do this at home now. Never throw it into the wind. People get hurt. So that is a warning.

COOPER: To be honest, Gary. I was kind of expecting that to happen to you. I was sort of worried that might happen.


COOPER: I know you've been standing out there for a while, didn't know if the brain was functioning. Yes. Actually completed a science course, I would know how that happens, but --.

Gary, appreciate that. Get in. Stay warm. As the saying goes, misery loves company.

As we said, Billings has a lot of company tonight. A huge swath of the country getting blasted by this arctic freeze.

Chad Myers joins us now with the bigger picture -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know, Anderson it's 55 right now in Houston and it's 60 in New York City. There's the cold front all the way here. The cold air that Gary is in. He is going to get to the 12-below zero, by the way, for Gary this evening.

And it's cold all the way across the upper Midwest and placer basin this morning was 26 below. That's Montana, not far from where Gary is going to be, and not far from the temperatures he's going to see this evening.

To give you a perspective here. Anchorage, Alaska, right now 38 degrees. Yuma, Arizona, 82. Deadman Creek, Montana, at this hour, is 16 below zero, 98 degrees colder than Yuma, Arizona. Yes. And it's been snowing. It's been snowing all day in Michigan and up to the parts of Wisconsin. Two feet of snow burying cars in that area. You're going to feel a piece of the cold there in New York and Boston and Philadelphia, but not the kind of cold air that is going to be bottled up there in Montana. So your high for tomorrow only going to be around 55, 60 degrees. But

then the cold air comes by and you drop down a little bit.

There's good news and bad news. It's not that we're going to see round one be that cold for New York, but round two next week gets colder. Like Gary said, this is not over by any means. The next ten days over the entire eastern half of the country below normal.

Look at the high in Denver, six. Six will be the high tomorrow after morning lows easily below zero there.

COOPER: All right. Amazing. Chad Myers, thank you very much. Appreciate it.

There is escalating outrage in Mexico to tell you about. Over 43 missing students and the government's response to impossible role in their disappearance. We have been covering this for awhile now. There is no one in sight that violent protests that have involves the country for weeks now to become a political crisis from Mexico's president demand for answers have grown the past few days after Mexico's attorney general said that authorities believe that the students were kidnapped, executed, burned, dumped in a river, ashes basically, and skeletons dumped in a river. Local police had turned the students over to a drug gang at the direction of the town's mayor. Those allegations unproven as of yet have added a new fuel to an already explosive situation.

CNN's Rosa Flores has the latest.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It looks and sounds like a war zone. But it's a clash between student protesters and federal police in the Gareno (ph) state capital in which a government building was torched. All in response to the disappearance of 43 college students more than five weeks ago.

The situation is very tense right now between the protesters and federal police. Now, take a look. On one side of this bridge are federal police officers. They have been firing rubber bullets. On the other side, you've got the protesters. They've been firing back with fireworks, rocks, you name it, sticks, and it's not stopping.

This boiled-over tension, fueled by inconclusive news of the whereabouts of the missing.

We have been here for about 20 minutes. You can see that protesters continue to rise. And take a look, the protesters continue advance.

More than 70 arrests have been made, including a mayor and his wife. Parents have been told their children are dead and that three other suspects have confessed to the killings, but authorities have not provided conclusive DNA evidence and parents refuse to believe that the students are dead.

They feel like there's nothing that they can do. (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE), there's no hope.

In the chaos, CNN cameras catch a mob surrounding a police officer with some of the protesters saying leave him alone, leave him alone.

Police officers are now getting hit from another side. A standoff that would end with police pulling back as protesters move forward.

They say at the end of the day they want the 43 alive, back home.


COOPER: That seems highly unlikely. Rosa Flores joins us now. What's next for these families?

FLORES: You know, it's a tough call for these families. They, of course, have said that the only thing that they want right now is their children back. But here is how outrageous and crazy this situation has become, Anderson.

During that protest, two protesters were allegedly arrested. Then the protesters allegedly kidnapped a police officer and with a human rights group present, they swapped. So that gives you a taste of the violence and how the situation continues to escalate.

COOPER: But now the mayor and his wife, the ones who allegedly orchestrated this entire thing, they're still on custody, right?

FLORES: They are. They are still in custody. Authorities are questioning them. No word on when charges may be dropped or charges may be made. And they haven't made a comment. So it's one of the mysteries, because we don't know exactly what they did or exactly why they were detained four days after these students went missing, these people went on the run. And then it took police a while to find them in an abandoned home in Mexico city.

So, that's one of the big mysteries, and one of the things that people are wondering, what's going to happen to them. Are they actually going to be charged? Anderson.

COOPER: Rosa Flores will continue to follow it. Thank you very much.

A lot ahead in the hour ahead. But quick reminder, make sure you set your DVR so you can watch "360" any time you like.

Just ahead tonight, Missouri's governor sounding a warning saying he is ready to send the National Guard to Ferguson, if needed, after the grand jury wraps up the Michael Brown case.

Plus, the gum chewing (INAUDIBLE) in the opera shawl moment to finally gave President Obama and Vladimir Putin on some common ground. We'll explain, ahead.


COOPER: Missouri's governor said state and local law enforcement agencies have been, quote, "working round the clock' to prepare for protest that virtually ever when expects if the Ferguson police officer who killed Michael Brown is not indicted. The governor said that contingency plans including -- included the Missouri National Guard.


GOV. JAY NIXON (D), MISSOURI: These measures are not being taken because we're convinced that violence will occur, but because we have a responsibility to prepare for any contingency. The public demands and I demand that. This is America. People have a right to express their views and grievances. But they do not have the right to put their fellow citizens or their property at risk. Violence will not be tolerated. The residents of this region will be protected.


COOPER: The grand jury that is reviewing the fatal shooting of Brown is still working on the case, according to the county prosecutor. There has been a lot of belief, perhaps rumors have been building that the decision could come any time. We frankly do not know. Nobody knows for sure.

All along, Michael Brown's parents have called for peaceful protests. At the height of the public outrage in Ferguson after the shooting, they called for calm.

Well, today, CNN's Ashleigh Banfield asked Brown's father if he will return to the streets for protest if there is no indictment. Here is what Michael Brown Sr. said.


MICHAEL BROWN SR., MICHAEL BROWN'S FATHER: We understand that our son is gone. But the movement will be that we're trying to make sure that this happens to no one else, that no one else has to feel what we feel. So, yes, the protests will carry on in a positive manner.


COOPER: Joining me now is David Klinger, former officer in the LAPD and a professor of criminal justice at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. Also CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Sunny Hostin.

Sunny, you were surprised of the governor's remarks today and kind of its tone. Why?

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I was shocked at the tone primarily because he said violence will not be tolerated but also said he had 1,000 officers at the ready. And sit with that for a moment, a thousand officers at the ready? We know that police -- this police department is buying riot gear. We know that gun sales have been up in Missouri 50 percent.

I mean, this is all about police brutality. So, when you take it back to -- or alleged police brutality. When you take it back as to why we're even talking about this, the governor's response seems to be very inflammatory as opposed to really looking inside of his own state and figuring out what the problem is.

COOPER: But wait a minute.

HOSTIN: It seems that the problem is police brutality.

COOPER: Let me look back on part of that a little bit. I mean, isn't part of the picture also him trying to assure homeowners and business owners and people in all communities that they're going to be protected? That things are not going to erupt into violence and that the authorities have a handle on it?

HOSTIN: Well look, we know that the grand jury started August 20th, right? So it's been months. There have been very peaceful protests. Yes, there was approximate point when there was some looting and that there was some violence. But in my view, the vast majority of the protests have been peaceful and that's our constitutional right.

And I think what's surprising is the police response has been very violent. Our own Don Lemon was pushed around by the police. It seems to be, in my mind, sort of emblematic as to how the police --

COOPER: Are you saying they're not addressing the core issues?

HOSTIN: Of course not.


David, the St. Louis county police chief said today that nicely. And he said quote "there's a large sense of anxiety out there." Do you agree with that? I mean, the governor is saying he's ready to send in the National Guard. Is that, in your opinion, the right tone?

DAVID KLINGER, PROFESSOR OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI, ST. LOUIS: I believe so. And I have to disagree strenuously with your first guest and here's why. The governor is not saying we've got a thousand officers who are lined up who will march lockstep through neighborhoods and knock people's heads in.

What he is saying is we have the assets that are necessary for potential multi-site protests that could breakout into violence. And what people have to understand is also a lot of the problems that occurred in Ferguson and from outsiders who came into the community, and people came into the community from not just neighboring areas but from all over the country. And there are intelligence folks who are working, Intel units in local police department who are identifying where the threats are coming from.

You have to remember, there have been multiple death threats against police officers, against other members of our community. And so, I think it's absolutely appropriate to say, look, we want people to come here and protest. That is guaranteed by the first amendment. Guaranteed by Missouri statute, so on and so forth.

COOPER: David, to Sunny -- KLINGER: However, if people break the law we're not going to tolerate


COOPER: To Sunny's other point, though, do you feel the governor -- and what Sunny is saying is echoed by a lot of folks I'm following on twitter and I have talked to in Ferguson to say, you know, that the governor is focusing on violence from protesters as opposed to what she believes and others believe are inherent problems in the Ferguson police force or institutional problems in the community.

KLINGER: These are two different issues and they run on parallel tracks. As the folks here in St. Louis and the greater region both, you know, here in Missouri and across the river in Illinois, people have been preparing for the potential for violence, while at the same time, as the governor pointed out, meeting after meeting after meeting with various constituencies, both here and St. Louis region and across the state and also across the (INAUDIBLE).

And so, I really don't see how you can't fault the governor for saying we're going to be prepared while at the same time what we have been doing is trying to address these problems.

HOSTIN: I think certainly we can fault the governor for the way he has handled this from the beginning. There's been a lack of transparency within this process. This is a grand jury process that I have never seen before.

KLINGER: Then you don't know what you're talking about, ma'am.

HOSTIN: I think I do. Excuse me.

KLINGER: This is typical.


HOSTIN: And the community has -- it is not typical. Atypical. The community has asked for the governor to appoint a special prosecutor from the very beginning. He refuses to do that. This grand jury process, sir, is very unusual. A grand jury is never given all of the evidence to be looked at over a 90-day period. It's not done because in the grand jury you don't have a judge to decide what evidence would be admissible in court and what evidence isn't.

COOPER: I want David to be able to respond and then we've got to go.

KLINGER: I've testified before grand juries in the state of Texas. And in Texas every single fatal officer shootings goes before a grand jury.

HOSTIN: In this manner? In this manner? You mean to tell me prosecutors -- because I'm a former prosecutor and I've presented many cases in front of the grand jury.

COOPER: Just so our viewers --

HOSTIN: There is no way this is appropriate. COOPER: Let's calm down a little bit.

KLINGER: But there are different states, ma'am.


COOPER: Just to our viewers who don't understand, Sunny, what you're saying is different is the amount of evidence which was given to the grand jury that, in effect, the grand jury is being kind of -- usually prosecutors pick and choose what they're going to present?

HOSTIN: Of course.

COOPER: Is that what you're saying?

HOSTIN: With the judge. Because certain things are never admissible at a trial. So in front of a grand jury, Anderson, 12 people in this case, you never put in every single piece of evidence to overwhelm that grand jury.

COOPER: You're saying overwhelming.


COOPER: But couldn't somebody also argue, well, in the desire for transparency, why not give everything to the grand jury and present them with all the facts?

HOSTIN: The reason that is never done, again, is because when you overwhelm a grand jury with evidence, some evidence that may not even be admissible --

COOPER: It would not be admissible?

OK, David, I want your thought and then we have to go.

KLINGER: I am not -- I don't know all of the evidence that has been presented before the grand jury, neither does your other guest. And so, for us to argue about the level of evidence that should be before the grand jury --

HOSTIN: The prosecutor made it very clear he's putting in every single piece of evidence.

COOPER: Finish his thought. David?

KLINGER: I think that's pointless. We don't know what happens gone before the grand jury. But going back to the point, grand juries often times, across the country -- like I said in Texas, every single fatal officer involved shooting I'm aware of in Texas goes before a grand jury, as it should, so that members of the community can participate in the review to make an assessment about whether the officer behaved appropriately. I don't see how we can argue that.

HOSTIN: That's not correct.

COOPER: David Klinger, appreciate you being on. Sunny Hostin, as well.

Up next, some had surprise, Russian president Vladimir Putin calls an uproar by placing a shawl on the shoulders of China's first lady so much so that in China the images were censored. We will explain ahead.


COOPER: Welcome back.

Just day after bruising midterm election, President Obama is now in Asia, trying to focus on foreign affairs. He is attending several summits. The first one in China, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit better known as APEC. And as for President Obama's coming under fire from locals who hate gum.

That's right. President Obama was caught on camera chewing what's believed to be nicotine gum. Chinese bloggers didn't like it, sounding off. They are calling the president a careless rapper and idler.

Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin created quite a controversy in a moment of shivery on live state TV, when he slip in shawl over the shoulders of China's first lady. She accepted the offer but then seconds later slipped it off in to the hands of an aide.

CNN's senior White House correspondent Jin Acosta joins us now from Beijing with more.

So Jim, not exactly the headline, President Obama wanted to make in China. First of all, the gum chewing, this isn't the first time he has gotten called out for chewing gum.


I watched President Obama chews some gum at the inauguration. This is something he has to do to control his past smoking habit and the Chinese are just not aware of that. The Chinese state media giving him some grief for that. but they also gave him grief for not taking Chinese limos to the APEC dinner the other night. They don't realized the President is going to take secret service limos wherever he goes.

But the president is making some headlines here in China, the good headlines that they want out of the White House in these trade deals he has been cutting with the Chinese president as well.

COOPER: President Vladimir Putin have had a few face-to-face interactions there. What do we know about that? I mean, they clearly do not have a great relationship.

ACOSTA: Absolutely not. And what would a (INAUDIBLE) for President Obama be without a distraction with Russian president Putin? They met face-to-face about three times, all totaling about 15 to 20 minutes on the sidelines of this summit, not really a bilateral meeting. But they did have a chance to talk about Iran, Syria and Ukraine.

COOPER: Also, the story on Putin and the shawl, the image that was apparently censored. How big a deal is that become?

ACOSTA: Well, it was another example, I think, of maybe Putin overreach. He put the shawl on the shoulders of Chinese first lady here. She almost immediately took it right off. And that incident created such a stir in Chinese social media. Because they do have their own version of social media here. The Chinese state government took down those images almost immediately and so they realized what had happened here.

But, you know, Vladimir Putin does have a knack for drawing attention to himself at these summits and it is something that we may be seeing later on this week, you know. Australia is hosting the G-20 summit and President Obama and President Putin will both be there. Of course, we'll all be watching to see whether or not these two leaders have another confrontation. It seems to happen almost everywhere they go where they end up at the same kind of meeting, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Jim Acosta, thanks.

Well, there's a lot more happening tonight. Susan Hendricks joins us with a "360" news business bulletin. Susan?

SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, ceremonies were held in Washington and across the country today to mark Veterans Day. The day is to honor the nearly 20 million Americans who have served in the U.S. Military.

Well, the coroner's report says Robin Williams suffered from Louis body dementia, that's a brain disorder that can cause hallucinations along with movement problems, similar to Parkinson's disease, which Robin Williams's wife says he was diagnosed with before he took his own life. And at New York's Bellevue hospital, Dr. Craig Spencer got cheers and applause as he left for home Ebola free. The Doctors without Borders volunteer got the virus while treating patients in Guinea.

COOPER: Nice to see you. You are doing well. Susan, thanks very much.

Up next, how police say thieves are using stolen credit card numbers to steal and then resell huge amounts of gasoline right from the pump. Drew Griffin investigates, next.


COOPER: Hey, welcome back. Well, it's obviously never a good thing when a thief gets ahold of your credit card number. But there's one way the criminals are getting cash from credit card numbers that you might not even be aware of. They steal than sell huge amounts of gasoline right from the pump, they use specially outfitted vans and trucks that look normal from the outside, but inside are nothing but giant rolling gas tanks. Over the past year, CNN got extraordinary access to an investigation in process watching the crime go down. And, more importantly, the bust of one major ring. Senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin tonight keeping them honest.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have to pull up. Straight up.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What you are looking at is gas being stolen. Police say it's paid for with stolen credit cards and pumped into a gas tank like you've never seen before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's the van. There's a stain on the side of the van. He has been seen before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They use the multiple, you know, six or seven different credit cards in one day.

GRIFFIN: For the past year and a half, Lilburn Georgia police detective Burt Ross has been tracking a ring of gas thieves. It's a scheme called pump and dump. Across the country, thieves turn stolen credit card numbers into cash by stealing then reselling hundreds of gallons of gas at a time at a discount, to truckers and unscrupulous gas station owners. And the key centers around these specially equipped rigs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the outside this looks like a stereotypical excursion you see every day on the road, but this thing has been completely retrofitted with siphoning systems and then internal - secretive fuel bladder in the back of the truck here.

GRIFFIN: Secret Service agent Steve Scarence (ph) who supervises the Los Angeles brought taskforce has been tracking the scam nationally. He says hidden compartments can hold up to 300 gallons of fuel. It's transferred then sent right back into the system.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like - yeah, it looks like a very legitimate delivery. This is what delivers normal gas, not stolen. So you wouldn't think twice about this particular truck being in a lot offloading fuel.

GRIFFIN: So, you've got two ends of this deal. One guy is stealing the gas and the other guy is knowingly buying stolen gas.


GRIFFIN (on camera): And that's the scam and they're making a lot of money.

ROSS: Millions.

GRIFFIN (voice over): Millions of money

ROSS: Millions of dollars. With six trucks, let's say, six trucks with 600-gallon tank, they fill it twice a day, six days a week, gross profit is close to probably $10 million.

GRIFFIN: The ring being watched by Lilburn police detective Bert Ross, he is working their scheme just outside Atlanta. Here in a suburban gas station, we watch as the suspect with the white van uses one stolen credit card after another to pay for diesel fuel.

ROSS: Well, this is definitely one of our primary guys.

GRIFFIN: During his 17 minutes at the pump, the suspect uses two stolen credit cards, four separate transactions, totaling $349 to pay for 95 gallons of diesel fuel. Thieves either steal credit card information or buy stolen credit card numbers online then make the cards themselves with machines like these, also easily bought online.

Back at police headquarters, Ross watches the suspected ring leader use stolen credit cards at a gas station as a hidden camera watches.

ROSS: This is our primary suspect driving his vehicle into the gas station and pumping diesel into the vehicle, which we suspect has a bladder in the back. He has no idea and, you know, he doesn't seem to care too much about the fact that that's what he's doing. To the rest of the world, he's just another person pumping gas in his car.

GRIFFIN: The surveillance video shows the suspect coming back day after day and week after week. Detective Ross follows other suspected members of this same ring.

ROSS: He's moving? OK. Which way is he going?

He's obviously looking around, he is a little suspicious, but sees nothing around to worry about. He continues on.

GRIFFIN: The suspicious trucks keep active.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to turn back around because I want to take some pictures of that vehicle.

ROSS: We don't want to make him too suspicious. There's one of the suspects right there is outside. There's a van, a white van that's back there.

GRIFFIN: It's sophisticated, organized crime. And according to the Secret Service, everyone involved knows this is illegal.

(on camera): And there's no doubt that the quote, unquote, bad gas station owners know they're getting stolen gas?


GRIFFIN: Crooked gas stations buy the fuel for roughly $1 a gallon. Truckers in on the scheme in Georgia get a deep discount.

ROSS: They are transporting their fuel all around the state, sometimes outside the state, they are meeting with truckers, semi- truck drivers and they're selling the fuel for about half the price.

On Monday, October 27, at 5 a.m., operation members will execute a search and arrest warrants ... GRIFFIN: 18 months after Detective Ross was tipped off to this ring working in his area, the criminals are about to get an early wake-up call.

ROSS: These are our primary suspects.

GRIFFIN: 75 law enforcement officers fan out before sunrise and hit seven locations, including the ringleader's home. Jorge Garcia Ramirez is identified as the boss. Inside his house, police say, is evidence of stolen credit cards and a full-time operation. He is the suspect caught on camera at the gas station.

ROSS: At this time, we suspect that there's some evidence at this location, that they may be manufacturing the con cards.

GRIFFIN: Ramirez has not yet entered a plea to fraud and identity theft. And the suspect we saw pumping gas into that white van? Police are looking for him. Also confiscated what Detective Ross says are the vehicles used to pump and dump the gas. Customized hidden containers. This l-shaped box can hold up to 113 gallons.

(on camera): Any idea how much money is involved here?

ROSS: A lot. But they operate five, six days a week, every week, all year long, committing these crimes. And it's up until now, where they finally have to pay for what they've done.

GRIFFIN (voice over): But busting this one ring took 18 months. There's no telling how many still operate across the country, stealing credit card numbers to pump and dump gas.


COOPER: So, Drew, what are the penalties for a crime like this?

GRIFFIN: You know, Anderson, they are not enough to keep the criminals from popping up in different places doing this same scam again and again. In this particular case, Ramirez and the others arrested could face up to 18 years in prison for the fraud, forgery, identity theft charges. Detective Ross says he's seeking additional charges of racketeering and organized crime. That's where the meat is. Those charges are five to 20 years each. But even these tougher penalties aren't enough to stop this because there's so much money involved. Unless you get tipped off, as this was in this case, or have inside information, it is really easy for criminals to pull this off.

COOPER: It's amazing. Drew, thanks very much.

GRIFFIN: Thank you.

COOPER: And no idea about this.

Coming up, scathing report on a series of mistakes that the New York clinic made treating Joan Rivers before her death. We're going to talk to Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Jeffrey Toobin about that next. Also, coming up at the top of the hour, the CNN special report, "Buried Secrets: Who murdered the McStay family."


COOPER: At a blistering new report the New York clinic where Joan Rivers stop breathing, is accused of making several mistakes including failing to identify deteriorating vital signs and provide timely intervention. The comedian never recovered from what was supposed to be just a routine procedure to check her throat. Rivers died on September 4, a week after going into cardiac arrest at the clinic. CNN's Jean Casarez has more.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You won't find the name Joan Rivers in the report concerning her death. The 22-page federal findings issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services calls her patient number one, an 81-year-old female scheduled on August 28th, 2014, for an upper endoscopy with possible biopsy of the esophagus to be performed at Yorkville Endoscopy. The report matches the date, circumstances and age of the late comedian. The findings include a list of issues during River's procedure, including a staff physician snapping photos of Rivers while she was sedated, violating the facility's policy on use of personal cell phones in any patient areas.

The CMS report quotes that staff member saying maybe patient number one would like to see this in the recovery area. Other factual findings include allowing Rivers personal EMT physician, not a member of the clinic's medical staff, to not only be present during the procedure, but be allowed to perform two invasive medical procedures after Rivers was sedated and without her written consent, all violations of Medicare accreditation standards.

Rivers' vitals were normal at 8:44 a.m. before the procedure began. According to interviews with staff, the procedure began at approximately 9:00 am with Rivers sedated. Her personal EMT physician then said I will go first and began to perform an unscheduled procedure, examining with the scope nasal passage ways extending downward. When she announced she couldn't see well, the staff physician began to perform the scheduled endoscopy. At 9:26 Rivers' blood pressure had dropped to 84/40 with a pulse of 47. According to the report, the procedure continued. At 9:28 a.m., Rivers' personal physician once again efforted her separate diagnostic procedure. The scope was ultimately removed at 9:30 am with no pulse. Paramedics rushed Rivers from the clinic to New York's Mt. Sinai hospital a mile away.

Also noted, the staff failed to follow standards of practice for the use of moderate and deep sedation. The report mentions that Rivers' weight wasn't measured before the procedure even though a staff member is interviewed as saying patient's body weight is very critical for the pre-anesthesia assessment. Yorkville Endoscopy addressed the report in a statement that says, in part, "In response to the statement of deficiencies, Yorkville immediately submitted and implemented a plan of correction that addressed all issues raised." UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you doing, Melissa? We're so sorry.

CASAREZ: Lawyers for Joan Rivers' daughter, Melissa, addressed the findings saying "Miss Rivers is outraged by the misconduct and mismanagement now shown to have occurred before, during and after the procedure." Now her lawyers say Melissa is working towards ensuring that what happened to her mother doesn't occur with any other patient. Jean Casarez, CNN, New York.


COOPER: The question now is could the family and state authorities even take action, legal action against the facility? Joining me now, our CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin. Along with us now, also chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I mean taking this photo while she's under anesthesia, when I first heard that, I kind of thought there's no way that actually happened but it's in the report.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's in the report and, you know, it's a huge breach of professionalism, at a minimum. There are some situations, for example, in teaching hospitals whereas part of the consent form that a patient will sign ahead of time, they'll say if there is particular images where the patient can't be identified. So, it's not their face usually, but the particular images of the operative -- place where the operation is performed could be used for teaching, that could be taken. And that's a signed consent ahead of time. It was - maybe she wants to see this in the recovery room. It doesn't sound like there's any forethought, certainly doesn't sound like she gave consent. And again, just from a professional standpoint it's just - it's bizarre.

COOPER: And Jeff, I mean we talked about this back in September when she died. And you said, look, there's the reality, sometimes 81-year- old people, they die and it's not the doctor's fault. This report, though, on what happened. I mean it certainly seems to give Melissa Rivers, Joan Rivers' family huge ammunition for a civil lawsuit.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The answer to that is not yes, it's oh, yes. This is a giant invitation to at least a malpractice lawsuit by Joan Rivers' estate against Yorkville Endoscopy, but it is also -- really raises questions about whether they will keep their accreditation to continue practicing at all or whether patients will continue to go there. I guarantee you that if this case went to a trial, sure, the medical problems would be -- the problems with the treatment would be disclosed. But the one thing all the jurors would say to their families when the trial was over was, can you believe they actually took pictures of her without her permission?


TOOBIN: That fact is just overwhelming.

COOPER: And Sanjay that they failed to identify her deteriorating vital signs. It seems like such a basic, obvious, and important thing.

GUPTA: You know, I think - I think celebrities sometimes don't get very good treatment. I know that's a blanket statement.

COOPER: But we've seen this before in the past.

GUPTA: Whether they thought, look, they were recognized, but they thought they weren't that serious, they could control the vital signs, control the problem, even if a little bit of time had passed or what exactly they were thinking may be impossible to ever know for sure. But what really struck me was that even if they had recognized a problem at the time that one of the doctors had a scope, endoscope actually in her throat down into her esophagus. Even if they recognized at that point, it doesn't sound like the medications that could have really helped correct this problem were readily available. Someone - what happens in a situation like this, is the larynx literally starts to spasm. And when the larynx spasms, you can't move any air. The air simply can't get into the lungs anymore. There's only a couple of ways to fix that problem, one is to give a medication that relaxes the larynx. And when I looked through some of those reports, it's not clear that that medication, which is typically on a crash cart, a sort of a resuscitation cart, was even available. So, or at least not readily available. That's a problem. So, even if it had been recognized, I'm not sure it would have necessarily solved the problem.

COOPER: And Jeffrey - go ahead.

TOOBIN: No, I just wanted to, you know, agree with something that Sanjay said that applies in the legal system as well as the medical system. Celebrity makes people crazy. You know, it's sometimes they get treated more harshly. Sometimes they get treated more leniently. But it just throws the system off. And here again, you had her personal doctor being allowed to participate, even though there was no ...

GUPTA: Right.

TOOBIN: No permission given. They just went out of their way to treat her differently and, obviously, the results were disastrous.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, I appreciate you being honest. Sanjay, thanks very much.

Coming up, something to make you smile at the end of the tough day. The Ridiculist is just next.


COOPER: Time now for the Ridiculist. And tonight it's completely unscented. Tonight, we have the story of a traffic scandal in Fort Lee, New Jersey. Now, this isn't the thing about the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, this is a separate incident, in which dozens of people were ticketed in a decoy program to catch drivers who don't yield to pedestrians. And at least one of those drivers plans to fight the $230 ticket. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then they just told me that I was - I was getting a ticket because I didn't stop for a pedestrian. And it was a crazy - It was duck it was a huge duck. It was scary.


COOPER: That's right. You are right. She said it was a duck. Right? Large, scary duck. Apparently someone thought it was a good idea for a police officer to go undercover as Donald Duck for the pedestrians in the crosswalk safety program. This was actually on Halloween. So, I guess it sort of makes sense. There he is. Some drivers, though, they feel tricked and now this woman wants to duck out of the ticket. They might say she doesn't want to pay her bill. Thank you very much.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It scared me. It was a huge duck. If it was a normal person or even a cop dressed as a normal person, I would have stopped. And I think all those people would have stopped.


COOPER: Number one, the cops dress as normal people all the time. Because they are normal people. But what was so scary about the Donald Duck? I don't quite understand it. Now, the police chief says the duck defense doesn't hold water. He says the number of people getting hit by cars is going down, but he wants the number to be zero, even if it means putting the duck in reduction.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you see a pedestrian, whether it's a young child, whether it's an adult, even if it's a seven-foot duck, stop, let the pedestrian cross safely and then proceed with your day.


COOPER: Seven-foot duck, OK. That maybe that is a little scary. I didn't realize the duck was seven feet. I thought maybe, you know, 5'6", 5'7". Seven feet, that's a little creepy. I didn't want to see the Minnie Mouse prostitution sting. All right? Because that's coming next. This isn't the first time a costume character has been used in an undercover pedestrian safety exercise. Apparently last December in Vegas, the police officer dressed up like an elf.


COOPER: Wait a minute. First of all, that is the narliest looking elf I've ever seen, that's like a gnome on meth, that's what that looks like. Anyway, dressed like an elf to hand out $300 tickets to drivers who didn't yield? 72 people were sided. I've got to say the walkie talkie may be should have clued the man that this wasn't an actual elf. Because I don't think elf scared walkie talkies. Meth gnomes probably do. I guess the point is, like the police chief said, maybe just go ahead and stop no matter who is in the crosswalk. How about that? Just as a matter of policy, don't duck your responsibilities as driver and just yield to the Ridiculist. That doesn't frost. Well, see you again Eastern for another edition of "360".