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Syrians Flee Border Town; Battle for Misrata; Child Pornography in Russia; Bahrain Grand Prix Once More In Doubt; Mexican Drug Cartels' Newest Weapon; Expert Says Authorities Focusing on Wrong Thing in Drug War; Caravan of Comfort; Connector of the Day Youssou N'Dour; Parting Shots of 2012 Olympic Torch

Aired June 8, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET


BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: Anger on the border, as Syrian refugees flee for their lives. Thousands of miles away, the United Nations debates whether to condemn the violence. But military action is off the table.

Plus, a young victim of Russia's child pornography trade -- it's illegal to produce, but legal to own.

And armed and ready to fight -- the latest weapon of war from Mexico's drug cartels.

These stories and more tonight as we connect the world.

Well, the world cannot stay silent as the crackdown in Syria enters an even more violent stage. That is the message from British and French today, urging fellow members of the United Nations Security Council to take action. They're meeting right now and we're going to go live to the U.N. in just a moment.

First though, let's show you why the situation is so urgent.

Residents of a northern Syrian town are fleeing in droves, fearing a military assault is imminent. Troops are converging on Jisr al-Shugur, where the government has vowed to strike back after security forces were killed by, quote, "armed gangs."

Well, Turkey is offering to help Syrians running for their lives, throwing open its border. Zooming in here, you can see the Syrian town of Jisr al- Shugur, usually home to about 40,000 residents. It is now emptying out.

The town is only 20 kilometers from the Turkish border and hundreds of Syrians have already crossed over.

Well, our Ivan Watson is right there on the border.

He filed this report for us a short time ago.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, less than a kilometer over my shoulder is the start of Syrian territory, the Syrian-Turkish border. And along that frontier, we are hearing of clusters of Syrian civilians who have fled from the town of Jisr al-Shugur. That's a Syrian border town where there's been some fierce and deadly clashes in the past couple of days.

The Syrian government claiming that at least 120 Syrian forces were massacred there by what they described as armed groups.

We're hearing a very different account from Syrian civilians who have become refugees. They've basically emptied that town, from what we're hearing. We've seen some YouTube videos of deserted streets there.

And according to the Turkish semi-official Anatolian Agency (ph), at least 220 Syrian refugees have fled into Turkey in just the last 24 hours. Many more hiding out along the border in what can be described as makeshift safe havens, camping out under the stars.

We've talked with some of these people who describe the electricity as being cut off to that restless border town, saying there's no access to water or fresh bread or -- or medications, as well, that the pharmacy has been torched there. And we're also hearing about victims coming just today to the border with bullet wounds from fresh rounds of fighting.

The Turks have been supplying ambulances to MedEvac some of these people, local doctors telling us at least 30 people wounded, with bullet wounds and shrapnel wounds, have arrived at local hospitals here in Turkey in just the last couple of days. The Turkish government very uncomfortable with this. Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, was a close trading partner and political ally of the current Turkish government. And now they're very worried that this ongoing fighting could trigger a broad refugee exodus that could spill across its borders and destabilize Turkey -- back to you, Becky.

ANDERSON: All right. Well, let's get you to the United Nations now, where the Security Council is debating just how to handle this Syrian crisis. It approved military action in Libya, of course, just a few moments ago. But don't expect to see fighter jets in the skies over Damascus any time soon.

Senior U.N. correspondent, Richard Roth, joining us from New York now -- Richard, what is on the table at this point?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: The United Kingdom and France are formally circulating their new draft resolution on Syria. Critics would say it's taking too long to get to this point. But Russia, China and others on the Council feared a Libya rerun situation, that they think went on the other hand, regarding the approval to use any necessary means in Libya. They don't want to have same thing in Syria, though they recognize there is an issue there.

British Prime Minister Cameron today, in London, using very strong language about a proposed resolution.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: There are credible reports of a thousand dead and as many as 10,000 detained. And the violence being meted out to peaceful protesters and demonstrators is completely unacceptable. Of course, we must not stand silent in the face of these outrages. And we won't. In the EU, we've already frozen assets and banned travel by members of the regime and we've now added President Assad to that list. But I believe we need to go further. And today in New York, British and French will be tabling a resolution at the Security Council condemning the repression and demanding accountability and humanitarian access. And if anyone votes against that resolution or tries to veto it, that should be on their consciences.


ROTH: France said it's still negotiating with Russia, but a veto threat certainly looms. Russia is still fuming about what's been going on in Libya.

At the State Department, the United States coming out more publicly in support of a resolution aimed at Assad's regime in Syria.


MARK TONER, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We do support pursuing a U.N. Security Council resolution regarding the ongoing situation in -- in Syria. And -- and we're advocating and -- and trying to convince others on the Council to do the same. We believe that such a resolution will bring added pressure on Assad's regime and advance the international community's efforts to end the brutal repression in the -- on the Syrian people.


ROTH: It's a bit of a turnaround for Washington, at least here at the U.N., weeks ago, they were thinking well, we don't need a U.N. Security Council resolution, there are enough unilateral efforts aimed at Syria. But nothing really seems to take hold, Becky. This sa -- this resolution does not contain any sanctions. It's sharp condemnation against repression, torture, human rights violations and demanding that Syria's government change its ways.

But there's no indication that the resolution would be received and any action would be changed on the ground.

ANDERSON: Yes, all right.

Richard Roth for you at the United Nations with the very latest from there.

Well, remembering the case of Libya -- the U.N. approved force because it feared a massacre, as government forces converged on Benghazi. Well, now we've got Syrian troops converging on Jisr al-Shugur, yet military action off the table.

Well, I talked about all of this with Lord Malloch Brown.

He's a former U.N. undersecretary-general and he knows his stuff.

I began by asking him whether this current U.N. resolution would actually pass.


LORD MALLOCH BROWN, FORMER U.N. DEPUTY SECRETARY-GENERAL: Well, it's a diluted resolution and it's got none of the teeth in it or threats of action that were, for example, in the Libyan resolutions. And that must increase the possibility that as a kind of lowest common denominator resolution, it will be hard to say no to.

But the fact is the Libyan resolutions did a lot of damage. They divided the international community and made China and Russia particularly very wary of using Security Council resolutions as a kind of way of getting -- for the West to get their foot in the door in terms of interfering in these situations.

ANDERSON: Who's likely to vote against this?

BROWN: Well, I think, you know, Russia and China are kind of likely candidates. I think China is, in a sense, you know, beginning to consider the fallen -- foreign policy opening in the Middle East that has been created for it by a United States which is ever more tough and vigorous in its opposition to these authoritarian regimes.

But, you know, if the resolution is mild enough, maybe everybody will, you know, kind of swallow their doubts, assure their friends in the region that it doesn't mean very much and therefore, please look the other way, but they are going to vote for the resolution.

ANDERSON: What's the point?

BROWN: Well, that's the trouble, it's -- it's -- from the point of view of those sponsoring the resolution, it is some kind of shot across the bows of the Syrian regime. I think it helps to drive home the fact that this regime has gone beyond the pale. It's, in a way, gone beyond the point of no return. Not only internally in Syria would it be really possible for the Assad leadership to return to anything like rule by consent, but externally, they face the prospect of being shunned in the West, of action against their economic assets, of action -- judicial action, perhaps, brought by NGOs or citizens against them, if they travel, for crimes against humanity.

I mean these leaders who viewed themselves as kind of coming into acceptability in Western circles have now ejected themselves, if you like.

ANDERSON: Let's back up and talk about this resolution again. We've got hundreds of men, women and children fleeing from Syria across into Turkey from a town that, 29 years ago, was the scene of a brutal crackdown. It's happening all over again. It's a repeat performance.

How can this U.N.-backed resolution do anything to help stop the violence?

BROWN: Well, it's certainly not the kind of resolution which is going to stop violence in its tracks. And this has been building now both long- term, but also over the last several days with the allegations that a lot of Syrian police and security forces had lost their lives in the town earlier in the week. And, you know, so I think one has to see the prospect that there might be some terrible things happening to civilians in the town.

The only, I suppose, good news is that in this age of cell phones and -- and -- and of social media, you know, unlike 29 years ago, this is not going to be something we only discover about afterwards. There will be imagery coming out. It will be on CNN and the rest of the world's media. And it will be one more black mark for a regime which is on a process, it seems, of thoroughly criminalizing itself in the eyes of world opinion.


ANDERSON: Lord Malloch Brown speaking to me earlier.

Now, it could be days before we learn just how the United Nations will respond to the brutal crackdown in Syria. Even if the resolution does pass, there's no guarantee that Bashar al-Assad will bow to pressure. And, of course, we'll stay on top of developments for you here on CONNECT THE WORLD as they develop in Syria.


I'm Becky Anderson in London.

It's just about 12 minutes past 9:00.

Coming up, child pornography in Russia -- it is worse than you think. We're asking the government how it's cracking down. That interview in about nine minute's time.

First, though, the death toll climbs in Misrata in some of the fiercest fighting since Libya's uprising began. We're going to take you there live.

Plus, why NATO says Gadhafi is going.


ANDERSON: I'm Becky Anderson in London.

You're watching CONNECT THE WORLD.

Here's a look at the other stories that need your attention this hour.

One of the bloodiest days in the battle for Misrata. Medical sources in the Western Libya city are saying at least 13 people have been killed in today's fierce fighting. Another 24 are reported wounded, as the battle continues to rage on three sides of the rebel-held city.

We're going to go live to Misrata and my colleague, Sara Sidner -- Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Becky, fighting was particularly fierce today. Now this is happening on the outskirts of Misrata now, because rebels have been able to push out Gadhafi forces for some time now from the middle of the city.

This is about 20 to 25 kilometers or more outside of the city on three separate fronts. And that's where the fighting is going on.

We've been hearing throughout the day loud booms, thunderous booms, which indicate that there's artillery fire, heavy artillery fire going on.

What we noticed when we went to the main hospital today is that it was extremely busy. They had blocked off a street because they had so many people coming through. Doctors told us that 13 people have died in the fighting today alone. There are more than 20 people who were injured.

Something interesting here that one doctor says is changing. What he noticed is something different today. He's not sure what is being used on the battlefield, but he says that today what he was seeing was that either the rebel fighters were coming in dead or they had minor wounds. And it's an interesting contradiction to what's been happening over the past month here, where people will come in with lots of very deep and dangerous shrapnel wounds. Now he's saying, look, what we are seeing today is some - - some serious, serious -- some deaths and some minor injuries. So he's not sure what's being used.

We do, however, know that Brad (ph) missiles were being used, because we saw some of them at the hospital. Some of the pieces of those missiles were brought to the hospital and set down. And what you might be looking at now is the triage center, which is just inside the gates of the hospital, but not yet inside the hospital. That's where they try and stabilize the patients before they take them out to the hospital if they need surgery.

A particularly fierce fight today. What happened, according to the rebel forces, is the -- the Gadhafi forces tried to make another push toward the city on several fronts. And they were able to fight back. They were able to hold their positions. And even, in some cases, they were able to push about three kilometers father.

But they have been told over and over and over again to try and hold their positions, not to try to push farther in this fight. They have made it about three kilometers pushing the Gadhafi forces further westward, toward the very important city of Latin (ph), which has a naval base there. And at this point, they've been able to hold that position and dig in there. And that's where the situation ends at this point in time -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Sara Sidner reporting from Misrata for you.

Well, the latest fighting comes as NATO calls for the international community to plan for a Libya without Moammar Gadhafi. At a meeting today in Brussels, NATO's secretary-general declared that the Libyan leader's, quote, "reign of terror" is coming to an end.

But Anders Rasmussen refuses to say how long it could take to dislodge Gadhafi.


ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: We agreed that the time has come to plan for the day after the conflict. Gadhafi is history. It is no longer a question of if he goes, but when he goes. It may take weeks, but it could happen tomorrow. And when he goes, the international community has to be ready.


ANDERSON: The head of NATO there.

Well, Germany says that it hopes the worst of the deadly E. coli outbreak is over. The country's health minister said today that the number of new infections from the highly toxic strain of bacteria is falling. At least 25 peopled have died and more than 2,600 others have been sickened by it. No one knows for sure where the killer bacteria came from.

Well, the presidents of the U.S. and Afghanistan held a one hour video conference earlier today. The White House says Barack Obama and Hamid Karzai talked about everything from the planned drawdown of U.S. troops, to the impact of the death of Osama bin Laden. President Obama's choice for the next U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan says security gains are, quote, "fragile and reversible."

Ryan Crocker testified at his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill.


RYAN CROCKER, NOMINEE FOR U.S. AMBASSADOR TO AFGHANISTAN: Enormous challenges remain -- governance, rule of law, including corruption, which undermines the credibility of the Afghan state, narcotics, sustainable economic development, including employment, the increased revenues along with the capacity for the government to provide basic services such as education and health care.

Failure in some of these areas can mean failure of the state and the creation of an environment in which our strategic enemies can regroup.


ANDERSON: Well, in India today, two wild elephants went on a rampage in the busy suburb of Myore. And I've got to warn you, this video is quite disturbing. Two young jumbo elephants apparently wondered in from a nearby forest and wreaked havoc on the town for about three hours, attacking animals, as we saw there, and trampling one person to death.

Well, the fast moving wildfire in the U.S. state of Arizona is now officially the second largest fire ever in that state. The blaze has already scorched nearly 160,000 hectares and more than 5,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in the east of the state.

You're with me, Becky Anderson.


Still to come, growing objections -- the Formula One Teams Association puts pen to paper over the reinstated Bahrain Grand Prix.

So will the race go ahead or will it be dropped?

Before that, though, Russia faces an online battle in its fight against child pornography -- what the government tells me it's going to do about it.

That's about 60 seconds away.

Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Believe it or not, as of this moment, there is no law on Russia's books to prosecute someone who is storing child pornography. Well, the fight to change that is now gaining momentum.

My colleague, Paula Newton, reports now on Russia's crackdown on all forms of child abuse.

One caution. Because of the nature of this subject, you may find this story unsuitable for some members of your family.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As wrenching as it is to listen to, what this 5 -year-old boy has to say about child pornography is crucial. And for Russia, it's also ground-breaking.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me please did your father photograph you?

Did he shoot you?

Or somebody else?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: He took off my underwear and photographed me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did he use it for?

Was it a camera or a mobile phone?

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: It's a camera inside a phone. It's like a TV. He has this camera which takes shots of people who like to take their underwear off.

NEWTON: This child goes on to describe sexual abuse at the hands of his own father. Without this testimony, child advocates say it would be impossible to convict the father, whose trial on child abuse and other charges begins later this year.

The reason?

Producing and distributing child porn is officially a crime, but is rarely prosecuted. There is no law against possession of child pornography. And even laws that govern child exploitation are weak. Many such crimes are never even reported.

Russian lawmaker Elena Mizulina says if she has her way, all that will change. She is sponsoring a tougher law that she hopes will finally protect Russian children. "Even having one photograph will be a crime," she tells me.

(on camera): Why is this law so important to you?

ELENA MIZULINA, RUSSIAN PARLIAMENT MEMBER (through translator): Because for the first time, people will be held criminally responsible for storing child pornography, even if they don't distribute it. To this day, you can't punish anyone for that.

NEWTON (voice-over): In fact, the Russian government admits Russia is a world leader in the production of child pron.

MARK TVERDYNIN, CENTER FOR SAFE INTERNET TECHNOLOGIES: Actually, a person who wants to find this content on the Internet, he -- this person can do it fairly easily.

NEWTON: Mark Tverdynin has worked for years to build awareness and try to scrub the Russian Internet clean of child porn. His safe Safe Net initiative, with a voluntary tip line, has closed down thousands of deplorable sites, more than 7,000 in the last six months alone.

TVERDYNIN: I would say like three or four years we'll -- definitely we'll find the way to fight this content.

NEWTON: But the pornography has already inflicted much pain on Russia's children. Psychologist Yvegeny Tsymbal has seen it firsthand for some 14 years -- weak laws and lack of evidence aid and abet the abusers, he says.

YEVGENY TSYMBAL, OZON PSYCHOLOGY CENTER (through translator): These crimes usually go on for a long time. And because they are not the kind of crimes that inflict physical harm to a child, these crimes are very rarely discovered.

NEWTON: Counselors like Tsymbal often ask victims of child porn to draw pictures in an effort to draw out their secrets. The abuse, even in very young children, is evident in their art, he says, as he shows us some painful sketches. He says these are crimes that are embedded within a child's personality, victimizing them again and again, even in their adult lives.

Paula Newton, CNN, Moscow.


ANDERSON: Well, Russia is second only to the United States in the production of Internet child pornography -- a statistic that, frankly, no one should be proud of.

Well, earlier, I talked to the children's rights commissioner for the president of the Russian Federation.

Pavel Astakhov admits child pornography is a big problem in Russia.

So I asked him what his government is trying to do about it.

This is what he said.


PAVEL ASTAKHOV, RUSSIAN CHILDREN'S RIGHTS COMMISSIONER: I can say that this is true. This is true. We are the second largest producer of such materials, because we have some problems with our legislation and we are seriously looking into the possibility to revise our law. First of all, to increase the punishment for such actions like producing, distributing and acquiring the child pornography materials.

The second step is to insert the possibility for punishment of the providers, because we are sure that providers shall disclose information about all users who use these materials in their personal computers.

And, first, it will be notification to remove these materials. After that, it will be punishment.

As the third step is to teach, to educate our children and our parents to be the first guard for our children and to educate our children to be familiar with the Internet and benefit...


ASTAKHOV: -- this information, which we -- you can find in Internet.

ANDERSON: Why has this taken so long...


ANDERSON: Hang on.


ANDERSON: I understand what you're saying.


ANDERSON: Why has this taken so long?

ASTAKHOV: I cannot say that it's taken so long, because we moved from the point which you're -- where all our legislative initiatives were starting 2001. Last year, we got a big progress in this issue. And we -- we are seriously...


ASTAKHOV: -- doing some -- some necessary steps to -- to -- to defense, to defense our children. And it takes some time. It takes some time.

ANDERSON: Do you accept...

ASTAKHOV: Because it...

ANDERSON: -- that...

ASTAKHOV: -- we are talking...

ANDERSON: -- the enormous...

ASTAKHOV: -- about -- we are talking about legislation...


ASTAKHOV: -- about law and the normal -- normal period for law enforcement is about six (INAUDIBLE).

ANDERSON: All right, well, he went on to say that Moscow is working to beef up penalties for pornography providers and distributors. And the commissioner also told me he believes there is a link between pornography and pedophilia. And he said he supports President Medvedev's legislation promoting chemical castration for pedophiles.

Coming up in a couple of minutes, a check of your world news headlines this hour, followed by applying the brakes to the Bahrain Grand Prix. F1 teams say they don't want to race. Find out why they have all the power.

Plus, later in the show, drug cartels in Mexico unveil a monster new weapon. What this means for the war on narcotics.



ANDERSON: He is one of Africa's most powerful voices. How this Senegalese singer has become a global peace leader.

Stick around. He is your Connector of the Day.

Stay with us.



ANDERSON: At just after half past nine in London, I'm Becky Anderson. Before we move on with CONNECT THE WORLD, let's get you the latest headlines this hour.

The UN Security Council is debating how to respond to Syria's deadly crackdown on dissent, Britain and France sponsoring a resolution that condemns the violence but doesn't call for military action.

At least 13 rebels are dead, 24 are wounded. Rebel-held Misrata reeling from one of the deadliest days since Libya's uprising began in February. The battle comes one day after NATO pounded the capital Tripoli with 60 missiles. NATO, meanwhile, says it's time for the rest of the world to plan for a Libya without leader Moammar Gadhafi.

The White House says oil supplies are not meeting demand, partially because of disruptions in Libya, and President Barack Obama is considering tapping into the US oil reserve. However, a White House spokesman emphasized that no decision has yet been made.

The European Union is now offering $307 million to farmers who've taken a financial hit from the E. coli crisis. This comes as German authorities report two more E. coli deaths, bringing the total to at least 25. More than 2600 cases have been reported.

And Joran Van der Sloot appeared in a court in Peru today in connection with the murder of a young woman there last year. He has not yet been formally charged. He was once considered a suspect in the disappearance of a girl called Natalee Holloway in Aruba, but he was never charged in that case.

Well, from green light to amber, the Bahrain Grand Prix is once again in doubt. The brakes have firmly been applied after the Formula One teams made it clear that they don't want to race in a letter to motor sports' governing body.

On Friday, it was announced that the race would go ahead on the 30th of October. That decision was made by the World Motor Sport Council, following a unanimous vote at their meeting in Barcelona.

The FIA last week sent one of its vice presidents on a fact-finding mission, who concluded it was safe for the Grand Prix to go ahead, a decision widely condemned by human rights groups around the world. You'll remember the season opener had originally been postponed because of unrest in the country.

So, where do the teams go from here? Well, earlier, I spoke to CNN's Don Riddell about the road ahead. He's been getting the low down from former FIA president Max Mosely. This is what he said.


DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Max Mosely is the former head of the FIA. He has an intricate understanding of how the politics of Formula One work, and it is very, very complicated.

He says he would be absolutely amazed if this race happens in Bahrain this season, and he says that fundamentally, the vote that was taken last Friday was handled all wrong.

MAX MOSLEY, FORMER PRESDIENT, FIA: The teams have complete power in this particular case because, although the governing body can cancel an event for reasons of force major, as happened in the case of Bahrain. Obviously, it was necessary to do that.

When you want to put an event on or you want to move an event, that's a change to the conditions under which the teams entered for the season.

Now, that's like any contract, you can only change it if both sides agree, so all 12 teams would have to agree to change the Indy end date and go back to Bahrain. So, it only takes one team to say "I don't agree," and that would be the end of it. It would not be possible for it to happen.

RIDDELL: So, Becky, it remains to be seen for sure whether this race is going to happen or not, but it really doesn't look like it's going to be. The teams have made their position clear today. They have written a letter to the FIA, to Formula One management, and also to the Bahrain International Circuit expressing their position.

We've known all along that they don't want to go, so we can, I think, assume that that is what is in this letter. And if they don't want to do it, then it's not going to happen.

ANDERSON: Don, how could they have got it so -- I'm talking about the FIA, here -- so spectacularly wrong?

RIDDELL: Well, there's a lot of people that would like to know an answer to that question, Becky. The honest answer is, I just don't know. But they haven't consulted the Formula One teams.

The 26-man panel, I understand, voted unanimously for this, but the teams weren't represented. They were indirectly represented by Bernie Ecclestone, who represents the commercial interests of the sport, and also Stefano Domenicali, who represents the Ferrari Formula One team.

But the teams don't want to go, and they have so many concerns. Moral concerns, obviously. There have been people in Bahrain writing to the teams directly saying "We don't want you to come."

The drivers have safety concerns. Mark Webber, who represents the Red Bull team, has been pretty outspoken about not only the safety concerns, but also the moral implications. The teams didn't want this season extended all the way into December. It's a long enough season as it is.

And so, for all of these reasons, that's why they don't want to go, and it looks as though they're not going to be made to go, either, now.


ANDERSON: The plot thickens. Just ahead, monster trucks in Mexico, but these aren't for sport. The newest weapons in the drug war lies in the hands of these cartels. That story coming up, two minutes away. Stay with us.


ANDERSON: Welcome back, it's CONNECT THE WORLD, 39 minutes past 9:00 out of London.

A show of support for a former mayor of Mexico, Jorge Hank Rhon, the mayor of Tijuana from 2004 to 2007 and is being held on possible weapons and organized crime charges after a military raid on his compound.

Now, his family's been under suspicion of involvement in cocaine trafficking for decades. But as you can see from these pictures, he still enjoys plenty of support in his hometown.

Well, those kinds of conflicts rage across Mexico between drug traffickers, police, politicians, and ordinary Mexicans just trying to stay out of the crossfire.

And if there was any doubt that the country has devolved into full-scale war, wait until you see the cartel's newest weapon. CNN's Rafael Romo has that story for us tonight from CNN Center. Of you go, sir.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: It's really incredible, just unbelievable, to realize how resourceful some drug cartels operating in Mexico have become.

They first gained access to high-caliber weapons, then they started using explosive and now, Mexican officials say, they're building custom-made tanks.


ROMO (voice-over): They're known as monsters, and they rumble in northeastern Mexico. As such, Mexican officials say these custom-made armored trucks are used by drug traffickers to transport drugs headed for the United States and weapons back to Mexico. The bullet-proof tanks are also used as weapons of war in clashes between rival drug cartels.

Take a look at how they're designed. They're fitted with swiveling turrets to shoot at the enemy in any direction. Two of them were seized by the Mexican army in Tamaulipas, a state just south of Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (via translator): They caught by surprise several armed civilians who were running into a clandestine workshop where they were indeed making the kind of vehicle used by the cartels to transport drugs headed for northern Mexico.

ROMO: This is the workshop in the town of Camargo, where Mexican authorities say the criminals were hiding the tanks. In addition to the armored trucks, authorities also found 23 other cargo trucks in the process of being fitted as narco tanks.

A look inside these trucks is very revealing. They have hatches and peepholes for snipers. Its spacious interior can fit as many as 20 armed men, and it's coated with polyurethane to reduce noise. It also has air conditioner ducts.

They're built with one-inch thick steel plating, which can withstand gunshots up to 50 caliber weapons and grenade explosions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): To destroy this kind of vehicle, you would have to use anti-tank weapons.


ROMO: So far, Mexican security forces have seized 20 narco tanks in various locations in northeastern Mexico, all with very similar features and, Becky, they suspect there may be numerous other clandestine workshops there. These armored trucks are still being made. Becky?

ANDERSON: Rafael Romo on the story. Quite remarkable, that.

Well, drug cartels certainly can't be faulted for a lack of creativity, it seems. In the past, they have dug, lit, and ventilated thousands of feet of underground tunnels from Mexico into the US. This one discovered in 2006 had about two tons of marijuana inside.

Well, they've also built homemade submarines that cruise the Pacific coast of South America. These found by the Colombian navy in 2009 carrying cocaine towards the United States.

It's difficult for authorities to fight such a determined opponent. My next guest spent his career doing just that, though. Antonio Maria Costa is the former executive director of the United Nations' Office of -- on Drugs and Crime, and he's joining me now from Brussels.

I mean, it does seem quite remarkable when you see these pictures. More evidence, it certainly seems to many people around the world, that we are losing the war on drugs.

ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, FORMER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UN OFFICE ON DRUGS AND CRIME: Well, first of all, I do not consider it a war. But second, you and, of course, politicians are focusing on the intermediate stage, the trafficking.

The real issues are the production on the one hand -- Colombia for cocaine, Afghanistan for heroine, Morocco and Mexico for cannabis -- and the demand market -- Europe for heroine, the United States for cocaine.

Unless the question of production and curbing it and demand, reducing it, are addressed, of course the trafficker will always find very creative ways of looking at it.

ANDERSON: All right, I get your point. Prohibition, though, many people say, simply doesn't work.

Last week, the global commission on drug policy reported that, as they call it, global war on drugs has failed and governments should explore more -- creative ways of dealing with this, legalizing marijuana and other controlled substances.

Shouldn't we now be pursuing this route? People are talking about this on both sides of the Atlantic. It is crucial, surely, Antonio, that something be done on this supply and demand.

COSTA: Oh, absolutely. On the supply side, briefly, these peasants, whether they are campesinos in Colombia and so on or in Afghanistan, they need help. They need to be assisted to switch out of narcotics, out of illegal drugs into some legal cultivations.

But let's talk about the demand. The question of decriminalizing has been on the agenda for a long time, and we -- myself, personally, the United Nations when I was the leader there -- we strongly supported to deal with drug addicts as human beings, as people affected by an illness rather than people to be put in jail.

In many countries, including the US, I must say, the addicts are put in jail rather than being put in a hospital. They have to be dealt with as human beings affected by an illness.

Then, the question of making supermarkets, creating supermarkets where drugs can be purchases where, indeed, anybody can walk in and buy drugs, well, I would not have that responsibility. We made it humanity --


COSTA: -- made a human error, major error when they introduced tobacco, which is now killing five million people a year, and alcohol, which is killing 2.5 million people a year.

ANDERSON: But come on, Antonio, people are going to do these things whether they are good for us or not. And I think these are your numbers. Currently, most countries spend 75 percent of their budgets on trying to tackle trafficking and only 25 percent on prevention.

You've got to deal with the demand, surely, because these numbers are too big, 75 percent of their budgets on trafficking. That's ridiculous.

COST: I am very glad, Becky, that you raised that issue, because these are my numbers, and this is my point. Most of the effort is focused on fighting trafficking. Unless we curb demand, trafficking will prosper.

We need to turn around those numbers, these proportions, I mean, making sure that more money's spent on young people so that they are dissuaded from getting into drugs. And if they get into drugs, they get assisted in the hospital so that, indeed, the trafficking business will just collapse on itself because there is no demand.

Unless this happens, I am afraid we are going to be facing more and more innovative means of transportation --


COSTA: -- tunnels, aircraft, tanks, as well as submarines, as you said.

ANDERSON: And let me tell you, I -- or let me say, I don't suppose for a moment you're actually surprised by the pictures of these tanks being used by some of these narco gangs. I'm sure many of our viewers, though, around the world will be.

What's next? We've talked before about submarines. We're looking at pictures of tanks, now. What's next?

COSTA: Well, no more than a year and a half ago, two years ago in Africa, in West Africa, we found remnants of a Boeing 707, which carried, I think, 12 tons of cocaine in West Africa. Of course, was trans-shipment into Europe.

Imaginative ways are always there. Money is always there to find ways of beating the system, beating law enforcement, if we only focus on law enforcement. We've got to focus on prevention and we have to focus on treating those who are already addicted.

ANDERSON: But it's not prohibition, as far as you're concerned, that we need to be dealing with. All right, Antonio, always a pleasure. An absolute expert on the subject, a man who knows probably more about the fight against drugs than most of us will ever know. Thank you.

Well, if the war on drugs is working, some people in Mexico, frankly, don't believe it, and they are taking matters into their own hands. This group has organized a Caravan of Comfort, as they call it, a convoy of buses driving through some of the bloodiest towns in Mexico, trying to take back the streets from the cartels.

They're protesting a military crackdown on those cartels, which has coincided with a wave of extreme violence in Mexico. 37,000 people have been killed since 2006. That is when the current president stated to fight his war on drugs.

The solution? Well, there doesn't seem to be one. But this is a story that we will be following for you in the weeks and the months ahead.

Still to come on this show tonight, the African icon. Listen to his voice.


ANDERSON: More powerful than many politicians in Africa, Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour is up next. He is your Connector of the Day. Do stay with us for that.


ANDERSON: Our next guest is Africa's most celebrated musician, with a voice that has come to resonate around the globe. A best-selling artist, a devout Muslim, a dedicated social activist, Youssou N'Dour made the "New African" magazine's latest list of the most influential Africans. He's your Connector of the Day tonight.


MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): More than a singer, Youssou N'Dour is known in West Africa as a grio, a musician with a message.

YOUSSOU N'DOUR, SINGER: Talk about our music, our religion, our faith, and positively.

FOSTER: A message he's brought to the world in award-winning film, "I Bring What I Love."

But most poignantly, he speaks through a repertoire of song that stretches more than 30 years to his most recent album, "Dakar to Kingston."

Best known in the West for his collaborations with Peter Gabriel on "Shaking the Tree," and "Seven Seconds" with Neneh Cherry, N'Dour's voice has become global and powerful.

A UN ambassador, he's long campaigned on social and political ills, from the incarceration of Nelson Mandela to religious tolerance, AIDS, and malaria.

I caught up with Youssou N'Dour as he prepares to tour the United States and began by asking him about his views on the face of Islam.

N'DOUR: I think the West have ideas, and sometimes they think Islam is violence or something. Islam is a peaceful religion. Listen, a lot of religions have fundamentalists.

A lot of religions have people who are doing more aggressive. I think it's very important to understand that it's not only Islam, but this religion is a religion for peace, for tolerance.

FOSTER (on camera): You are, I think it's fair to say, more influential than many African leaders, most African leaders. Is this something that you intended when you set out in the music industry, or is this just something that is a side effect, really, of what you're interested in?

N'DOUR: When I was really young, 15, to do this music was really -- it's still my passion. But I'm coming from this family called "griot." The storytellers before TV or radio.

And then I grow, and every day I see something I like, I don't like, I give my perception and my vision. And one day, I receive a call from the United Nations, making me an ambassador of UNICEF.

One great journalist here in the US says we create culture diplomacy.

FOSTER: Absolutely. And it's become a really big thing in recent years, hasn't it? Particularly in Africa. But back to the music, because Eric Brown wants to know, where do you get your influences from? Because you have so many interests, don't you? But in terms of music, where do you get influenced?

N'DOUR: From my tradition, I was really interested about music. When I heard someone like Fela Kuti or Manu Dibango, I was really interested about music, and I say, "OK, this is possible."

Later, when I know about someone like Bob Marley, I say, it's possible to be someone who lives in an undeveloped country and to make possible something worldwide.

FOSTER: We've been talking about how influential you are, and Jurgen Brul asks how would you improve Africa? Africa, particularly North Africa, going through a particularly tough time at the moment. But is there some single thing that you would do to improve Africa?

N'DOUR: Yes. What I think is, here in the West, people think Africa is about war, AIDS, and poverty. And I live in Africa. I stay there, and I think there's a lot of great things in Africa people don't mention.

Intellectual, young people, sport, art, a lot of great things we want to bring to tell the world Africa, yes, definitely is some ways difficult. But the other way is a lot of opportunity, a lot of great things, and this is what we bring. What I call new Africa.

FOSTER: If we could talk about the revolutions, if you can call that, in North Africa right now.

N'DOUR: Yes.

FOSTER: It's off the back of a lot of problems in those North African countries, isn't it? But do you see it, generally, as a positive thing, the fact that young people are asserting their control and trying to change things?

N'DOUR: What I think is it's great today to see people get back the power. And today, the conscience of people, especially young people, they try to get back the power and to decide who are the leaders who are going to lead them.

I think also all Africa needs to be more democracy and more liberty and more freedom for people and give them the power back.


ANDERSON: Your Connector of the Day, Youssou N'Dour. Amazing guy, talking to Max Foster ahead of his current tour of the United States.

Well, tomorrow night, Hollywood's panda hero. Find out why Jack Black, the voice of "Kung Fu Panda" kept his distance from the real thing. That is actually tomorrow night, as you suggested.

Now, all this week, we've been asking you to send in any questions that you want me to answer via our Facebook page. That is It ranged from what makes me tick, which I thought was what makes me sick, but anyway, it was what makes me tick, to what do we do during commercial breaks.

Well, I answered them in a telling video, I'm told, which is on our Facebook page. That's Become a fan, you can quiz me, too. You might be a little bit surprised as to what I say.

Anyway, before we go, time for our Parting Shots this evening and, tonight, an introduction. Meet the torch for the 2012 Olympics to be held here next summer. We're still more than a year away but, today, the torch unveiled for the first time. It's a gold and aluminum tube with 8,000 holes representing the number of torch bearers and the number of miles it will travel in a relay across Britain.

Organizers hope to avoid a scene like this one, the last time an Olympic torch relay passed through this country. It was on its way to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Protesters, though, grabbed it and extinguished it to protest China's rights -- record on human rights. You may remember that.

This torch, though, will remain unlit for now until the flame itself arrives from Greece next May.

I'm Becky Anderson, that is your world connected this evening. Thank you for watching. Your world news headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break. Don't go away.