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Addicted at Birth; Inside FLDS
Aired August 5, 2011 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight on CNN PRESENTS, addicted at birth.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What's she going through? She's just a little baby! And she can't talk and she can't tell me how she feels.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America's painful epidemic is the youngest generation.
AMBER LYON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing more babies being born addicted to drugs.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Beasts of war.
KAJ LARSEN: Next thing you know I was staring at a porpoise right in the face. Just got me again!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: A one stop secret military program that enlisting animals to protect the country.
But first, inside a polygamous sect.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're dealing with the exploitation of children, of young girls, for sexual purposes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gary Tuchman takes you where most people never go, exposing polygamy's dirty secrets.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The scenery is spectacular. And the polygamist families who live here along the Utah/Arizona border have been able to live their lives with little interference from the outside world for generations. Stepping into their world is both jarring and surreal.
How many brothers and sisters do you have?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have 18.
TUCHMAN: And Albert, how many brothers and sisters do you have?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am the oldest of 32. TUCHMAN: These are not members of the Salt Lake City Mormon Church or known as the church of ladder day saints. They belong instead to a splinter group that believe in polygamy and call themselves the fundamentalist church of latter day saints, or FLDS.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think you can win this case?
TUCHMAN: Their spiritual leader, Warren Jeffs has been found guilty this week of sexually assaulting two children. And still faces trial on the count of bigamy to which he pled not guilty.
The people of the FLDS are convinced that there's nobody on earth closer to god than Warren Jeffs. They believe Jeffs, even behind bars, is the mouthpiece of god. That words he utters are divinely inspired. Law enforcement authorities have long been worried what would happen if Jeffs told his followers to do something violent and dangerous.
SAM BROWER, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: I've never seen it like this before. I've been here for seven years and I've never seen things so unstable and so lawless. I consider this the most lawless town in the country.
TUCHMAN: Sam Brower is a private investigator and writer who's been following the polygamist sect closely for nearly a decade and has written a book about the FLDS called "Prophets Prey."
Do you think a comparison to be made like the Taliban or the mafia?
BROWER: Absolutely. I mean even the attorney general has stated that the FLDS and its community is run Taliban-style. And that's really all the FLDS church is, in my opinion, is an organized crime family.
TUCHMAN: Attorneys for the break-away sect say that kind of assertion is nonsense. That the polygamist leaders and followers who live here simply want to be left alone, to practice their religion as they see fit. But real violence, according to some neighbors, has crept into the community.
This burned-out patch of grass in the town of Colorado City, Arizona, is evidence of what authorities say is very disturbing example. Arizona State Investigator says FLDS leaders burned dozens of book here rather than let an opened library be built because they believe the books were collected by infidels.
STEPHANIE COLGROVE, FMR. FLDS MEMBER: They burned things that didn't belong to them. They've broke noon the building.
TUCHMAN: Former FLDS member Stephanie Colgrove said she worked for more than two years to collect books for the new library. A library independent of the church. What do they do with the books?
COGROVE: They hauled them out of the building.
TUCHMAN: And then what did them do with them?
COLGROVE: We assume they were burned. We saw a massive bonfire and assumed all of this was on the pile because we saw books in the burning pile.
TUCHMAN: This is the remnants of the one of the charred books. It looks like a medical textbook.
County investigators say the local police in Colorado City are all members of the FLDS and have ignored the arson. Those local police have not returned our calls. It's the county authorities who have worked to crackdown on the church.
You're with the county. And they're the local police and normally, 99.9 percent of the time police all work together. You don't work with these guys, do you?
GARY ENGELS, DISTRICT ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, MOHAVE COUNTY: Not at all. I can't get them to talk to me most of the time.
TUCHMAN: That's because according to the Mohave County Chief Investigator Gary Engels, police here obey their religious leaders. Civilian leaders second.
In your eyes, is their allegiance more to the United States or to Warren Jeffs, their prophet?
ENGELS: I believe that their allegiance is probably more to the church. I know they were required to swear allegiance to Warren in one of their church meetings here not long ago.
TUCHMAN: Some say if you don't side with Warren Jeffs, there can be trouble.
So are you afraid for your safety sometimes?
ISAAC WYLER, WARREN JEFFS OPPONENT: Yes. Sometimes you get a little worried. They've killed some of my animals.
TUCHMAN: Isaac Wyler has lived here for years and until he split from Warren Jeffs, life was more or less tranquil, not now.
WYLER: One time there was like six dead cats in my window wells thrown in there. A lot of times you go out there and there will be a dead cat or pigeon or duck or something.
TUCHMAN: So you feel like that's a threat to you? To intimidate you?
WYLER: Yes. Definitely for intimidation, but I don't intimidate that easy.
TUCHMAN: Attorneys for the FLDS did not return calls for comment on either the book-burning or the alleged intimidation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're not an FLDS. Please don't point that at me.
TUCHMAN: During my frequent reporting trips to Colorado City we were often made to feel unwelcomed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No cameras allowed here. This is private property.
TUCHMAN: Most of the people here will do what it takes to protect Warren Jeffs.
Tell me what Warren Jeffs means to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know what you mean by that.
TUCHMAN: How important is he to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything.
TUCHMAN: He's everything to you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uh-huh.
TUCHMAN: And there's still a great deal of allegiance to the leader who's long been in jail. But that may be changing.
Just ahead, a man who was once one of Warren Jeffs' most loyal followers now tells a very different story.
WILLIE JESSOP, WARREN JEFFS' OPPONENT: He in his own wards admitted to what he is. And he said he's a very wicked man and he confessed to doing some very terrible things.
TUCHMAN: Even though he's just been found guilty by a Texas jury of sexually assaulting two children, there seems little doubt that Warren Jeffs remains firmly in charge of his break-away polygamous sect. While he was in trial awaiting jail he did one thing above all else. He was on the phone.
In this past month, how much money has he spent, would you estimate, on phone cards to make phone calls.
DAVID DORAN: Roughly, $3,000.
TUCHMAN: And a similar pattern when he was for a time in a different Texas Jail, a few dozen miles away.
JEFF GARNER: I would say probably, in excess of 10,000.
TUCHMAN: And is that unusual to spend that much money? Have you ever had an inmate spend that much money on phone cards? GARNER: No. No.
TUCHMAN: Authorities tell CNN Jeffs has been given cash by his loyal followers to pay for the calls and they say they monitor what's said. Mostly lengthy sermons and detailed instructions to his followers a few miles away that is isolated yearning for Zion ranch, as well as to his followers in the polygamist towns of Colorado City Arizona and Hilldale, Utah and.
If that sounds like he's still running the church from jail, he is. Insiders say he's been excommunicating those that disagree with him. What it hadn't done is stop a growing feud between those who still believe in him and those that now believe he's a child molester.
JESSOP: I like for you to think if you were standing here today --
TUCHMAN: Three years ago Willie Jessop was one of his most trusted Lieutenants. He showed me around the compound in west Texas that was raided to show CNN that there was nothing bad inherently taking place.
So where are the carrots?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right there.
TUCHMAN: Can I see them?
Today, Jessop says Warren Jeffs has betrayed his church.
JESSOP: And he said he's a very wicked man and he confessed to doing some very bad things include molesting his daughter, his sister and others. I think his own words described himself.
TUCHMAN: Jessop is talking about diaries submitted as evidence that he says were left by Warren Jeffs after his arrest in Las Vegas five years ago. He's talking about these. Pictures showing Jeffs embracing and kissing young girls, no more than 12 or 13 years old, Jessop says.
JESSOP: His conduct will never be sanctions by me. I don't think there's anyone at my church that will ever sanction what he's done. It's just a matter of time until they come to terms and figure out how to cope with what he's done.
TUCHMAN: According to authorities, of both Texas and Canada, Jeffs orchestrate in what Canadian police called "the child trafficking ring" sending as many as 30 young girls, ages 12 or 13, from a polygamist compound in British Colombia across the U.S. border to FLDS enclaves in Utah, Arizona and Texas.
DAN MOSKALUK, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE: This is a very serious allegation here where essentially in layman's term we're dealing with the exploitation of children and young girls for sexual purposes and the procurement of sex with girls under the ages of 18. TUCHMAN: And here is the Canadian compound. Now it self-split into factions. One faction loyal to Jeffs, the other loyal to this man, Winston Blackmore. He's a long time polygamist leader who does not want to believe counts of child brides moving away from Canada into the United States.
WINSTON BLACKMORE, CANADIAN POLYGAMY LEADER: I've heard the stories. Just different people have come like you've come and told me about them. But I feel very disappointed if they were actually true.
TUCHMAN: A woman who did not want her face shown told us that it is true. She says she has first-hand knowledge. Three of her nieces were among those sent away to be married to older men in the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It angers me that 12 and 13 year olds would be taken away and given to an older man. And that he'd consummate their marriage vows. That angers me. I mean, they're just children. You know? It's not right.
TUCHMAN: Many girls investigators say, ended up here at this FLDS compound in West Texas where we tried to get some answers.
It's Gary Tuchman with CNN and we're doing a story about Warren Jeffs.
Cars and trucks passed in and out but no one came out to answer question.
Can I ask you quick question?
Warren Jeffs' attorney declined to comment.
The people that live on this ranch in one of the most isolated parts of Texas are not only loyal to Warren Jeffs they're the most loyal of the loyal. You're only invited to live here if the prophet himself approves.
And despite his long stay in jails in Utah, Arizona and Texas, jail time amounted to more than five years so far, that's what Warren Jeffs is to people that believe in him. A leader to be follows and obeyed, despite his conviction this week on two charges of sexual assault. He will also sued in trial on a bigamy charge to which he pled not guilty.
Officials of the mainstream Mormon Church reject Jeffs and his practices. But within the FLDS there seem to be more people supporting Jeffs than those trying to un-seed him. How long that will guest is anyone's guess.
Warren Jeffs was his own attorney during his Texas trial where prosecutors played audiotapes of sexual encounters with underage girls. Even so, he's still controlling the destiny of his polygamist followers. Just listen to this young believe the Arizona.
Tell me what Warren Jeffs means to you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know what you mean by that.
TUCHMAN: How important is he to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everything?
TUCHMAN: He's everything to you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uh-huh.
TUCHMAN: And are you married yet.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uh I'm not.
TUCHMAN: Do you want to be married some day?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uh Of course.
TUCHMAN: Do you want to have sister wives, too?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Uh Of course, I do.
TUCHMAN: How many sister wives do you think would be perfect, do you think in you family?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: As many as I can.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Next on "CNN presents," the new face of America's pill epidemic. Innocent infants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYON: If you're pregnant and you know it's harming the baby why don't you quit using the pills?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just not that easy. You feel like you're going to die.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: And later, caught by the U.S. Navy's underwater recruits. Marine mammals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LYON (voice-over): From the outside, they look more like nightclubs and doctors' offices. And they're not too happy to see our cameras.
We're here in a parking lot in one of these pain clinics.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out of here. LYON: Broward County, Florida, is filled with pain clinics. Doctors making millions doling out prescription opiate, also known as heroin in a pill like candy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oxicodone, 30 milligrams. Rockies, blues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can get hundreds of hundreds of pills in one day going from one doctor to the next and then they take them on the street and they sell them.
LYON: Authorities are struggling to shut down these pill mills, but not fast enough.
More and more people keep dying from prescription drug overdoses.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These doctors are slaughtering our children every single day. Look at us. We're desperate. We're begging you.
LYON: As one generation succumbs to prescription opioids.
LYON: A new generation of addicts being born.
AL LAMBERTI, SHERIFF, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: We saw the number of crack babies that died and this is just another version of that. We all need to be concerned.
JESSICA, RECOVERING OXYCODON ADDICT: Good morning ladies, I'm Jessica. I feel good today. Casey goes for her follow-up appointment at the doctors so hopefully they'll say she's doing better and I hope everybody has a blessed day.
This is Casey's bed. Like I said, she's a little princess so --
LYON: And that's where she was born?
JESSICA: Yes, that's right. That's about a week after she was born. This is her nebulizer, put on her face and just turns it on.
LYON: It's kind of loud.
JESSICA: This is why we're going to the doctors, this nasty cough.
LYON: For most of her pregnancy, Jessica flooded her body and therefore, Casey's with the prescription painkiller, Oxicodone, a synthetic version of heroin. These prescription pills have emerged as the nation's fastest-growing drug problem.
Jessica fears the drug use is responsible for Casey's frequent respiratory infections.
JESSICA: With my other two kids they were never sick this young. So it's kind of new to me.
God comforts us in a way a loving parent comforts a frightened child.
LYON: Two years ago, Jessica's husband died. A friend gave Jessica a couple of Oxicodone pills to numb the pain.
JESSICA: When I started I was taking like one to two and within a six-month period I was taking 30, 30, 30 milligrams.
LYON: Jessica was getting her pills from Florida's numerous pill mills and then she got pregnant.
If you are pregnant and you know that it's harming the baby and you know it could possibly cause birth defects why don't you just quit using the pills?
JESSICA: It's just not that easy. You feel like you're going to die.
LYON: This recovery center used to be filled with pregnant women who had abused crack cocaine. Now it's pills.
When did the first patient come in addicted to pills?
GARY FORREST, SUSAN AND ANTHONY RECOVERY CENTER: OK. In 2000, this is all cocaine right here the blue line, versus primary drug of choice, prescription. And the crossover was sometime in 2009.
LYON: Pregnant women addicted to crack are encouraged to quit. But with opioids, babies get just as addicted as the mother. If she quits cold turkey, the baby could die in utero from withdrawal.
LYON: When you went through withdrawal did you feel like Casey was going through withdrawal as well?
LYON: How was that?
JESSICA: She would like curl up, like in a -- because it was in the later part of the pregnancy. She would crawl up in a ball and my stomach would get like rock solid and she wouldn't move. You could feel it. You could feel that she was in torment. It's really sad, you know. To know that your baby is in pain while you're in pain and you feel horrible because you did it. You did it. You put yourself there.
LYON: Jessica was weaned off the pills before Casey was born. Those that aren't give birth to babies who begin to suffer with their first breath. So you have to detox the babies?
MARY OSUCH, RN, BROWARD GENERAL MEDICAL CENTER: They go through their withdrawal symptoms yes. They start out by having feeding intolerances, diarrhea. You can tell that they are crampy, they are miserable, they are irritable, they sweat, they have a hard time in breathing. Sometimes they can have seizures.
LYON: According to state health records, during the first half of 2010 alone, 635 Florida babies were born addicted.
You're saying the number of babies you've seen addicted to prescription drugs doubled last year?
DR. LESTER MCINTYRE, JOE DIMAGGIO CHILDREN'S HOSPITAL Yes. There are some situations where we have three or four babies at a time. It just makes everybody a little reflective and a little sad about the whole situation.
LYON: Even more troubling? Researchers still don't know what the long-term effects of opioid use will be on infants. And neither does Jessica.
JESSICA: I know that I'm going through stuff the, getting off of the pills. So what's she going through because she's just a little baby? And she can't talk and she can't tell me how she feels. I want to make sure that she doesn't want for anything. That she doesn't have to hurt any more than I already put her through. She didn't deserve that. She's a princess.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LYON: Coming up --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to see her drug dealer. He has tear drops tattooed on his eyes.
LYON: We see first-hand how the pill trade works.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SUSAN HENDRICKS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Susan Hendricks "CNN PRESENTS" will return in a minute.
First, breaking news. Standard & Poor's has downgraded America's credit rating fallout from debt crisis. More on this fast-moving story tonight on "360."
Now back to "CNN PRESENTS." First though, we want to go to Allan Chernoff with much more on this breaking story. Allan --
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Susan. The debt is now at AA-plus for the United States of America. The AAA rating has been taken away by Standard & Poor's. This warning has been out there for there for several weeks.
July 14th, S&P first warned that it may take this action and indeed now it has done so and it's saying within the next two years it could lower the rating by, yet, another notch to AA, but for now AA- plus for the United States of America.
S&P is saying the deal that was done this week between Congress and the administration simply isn't credible enough, isn't enough in terms of lower the debt burden relative to the size of the economy. S&P also says it's not enough that the country avoided default. Not enough that it was able to raise the debt ceiling.
Basically, S&P is also saying that they are, quote, "highly pessimistic about the capability of Congress and the administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government's debt dynamics." So a real lack of vote of confidence here in the U.S. government.
HENDRICKS: And Alan, you said not enough over and over. How do you think the markets will react to this breaking news?
CHERNOFF: Well, some of this has to be already baked into the cake. I mean, we've had just an awful week in the stock market. Sure, this could push the stock market down a little more. It could make investors a little bit shaky about buying U.S. government treasuries.
But the fact is, it still is debt that's supported by the full faith and credit of the United States. And even in the chaos that occurred this week, investors were rushing into U.S. Treasury securities as a safe haven.
So on the bond market, it may not be devastating for U.S. Treasuries. It could hit the U.S. stock market a little bit, certainly.
HENDRICKS: All right, Allan Chernoff, thanks so much for the latest on that breaking news. More on this fast-moving story tonight on "360." Now back to "CNN PRESENTS".
AMBER LYON, CNN PRESENTS: We came to Broward County a year ago to do an investigation on pill mills. Now we're back a year later and they're still rows and rows of pain clinics. We're seeing more babies being born addicted to drugs.
SHERIFF AL LAMBERTI, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: More people died last year from prescription drug overdoses than car accidents.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our children are dying and it's all young people. It's all the young people.
LYON: What age were you when you started using coke?
BREE, OXYCODONE ADDICT: I was 18. That's me and my dad and my brother. And that's me and my mom before drugs. I used to be so prissy and preppy in all my pictures, about my hair and my makeup. I don't give a (inaudible) anymore.
LYON: Bree's addiction to Oxycodone is killing her. BREE: There's five of the Oxycodone and a bar and a half of Xanax.
LYON: She allowed us to film this because she wants us to show with what a rut these pills have made of her life.
BREE: I love my family, but this is the only thing that I care about. It doesn't feel like I'm -- my vain isn't pumping up. It burns until you take the tie out. I need more pills. I don't feel anything. I'm not satisfied. You can just leave the door open.
LYON: Is that hard for you to see her like this right now?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hate it. I hate it.
LYON: Bree's mother, Joy, is a nurse. But this is one patient she's not been able to help.
JOY SAGHY, BREE'S MOTHER: She's dropped cigarettes in between her chest and burned holes in her, you know -- I mean, it's amazing that our house hadn't burned down, to be honest with you.
LYON: Your daughter is around her all the time. How come you can't keep her from doing the pills?
BREE: She's trying.
SAGHY: I've tried everything. I say a prayer to God every time I leave for work. When I get home the first thing I do is I check on her to make sure she's still breathing. It's not a fun way to live.
LYON (voice-over): Joy joins other South Florida parents in protest against the pill mills that feed addiction.
(on camera): So the majority of people that are out here, have they lost family members to pills?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All of them have.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is my precious son. His name is Jay. He died at age 36 on his birthday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blaine died December 5th, 2009.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your home at night and the phone rings and you're afraid to answer it because you don't know whether it's the sheriff, the morgue or the hospital.
LYON: Bree's driving us right now to go pick up more pills. How much money is this?
BREE: I think it's $175.
LYON: And this will get you one hit?
BREE: Yes. LYON: She spends thousands of dollars a week just to get high. We're going to see her drug dealer. He has tear drops tattooed on his eyes and gold teeth. You're not scared of this guy?
BREE: No. He's a sweetheart.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ignore me. If you see me on the street ignore me.
LYON: My producer Steve is getting out of the car because it might look too suspicious with him sitting in the back seat.
BREE: Let me get 12 until later.
LYON: The dealer admits he gets his stash after visiting multiple pill-mill doctors. So what did he give you?
BREE: Eleven of them.
LYON: Eleven, what are they?
LYON: To put this into perspective, the recommended starting dose for Oxycodone is 10 milligrams in 12 hours. Bree just bought 30 times that and that's just enough to get her through one afternoon.
Today, a multiagency task force busts 22 pill mills, arresting doctors for trafficking in illegal prescriptions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not uncommon seeing doctors making upwards of $1 million a year.
LYON: But that's nothing compared to what some of the clinic owners make. DEA agents seized more than two dozen luxury cars from the garage of one pill mill entrepreneur.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This individual was making $150,000 a day.
LYON: Viper, Porsche, a nice blue Bentley. I don't know what this is. Why does it take so long to bust the clinics? Why can't you just go in and knock them down one by one.
LAMBERTI: Well, they're doing it under the cover of their medical license and you have to prove the doctor knew that they were overprescribing.
MARK TROUVILLE, SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE, DEA MIAMI: These people are addicted. These people are suffering and these pill mill clinic owners and some of these doctors are just preying on that suffering for cash, for the profit.
LYON: These are the faces of that suffering.
BREE: I remember when I first started doing these occasionally. Everybody, all my friends, none of us were drug addicts. Now, the whole town is.
LYON: One mother who has already lost her child -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, princess.
LYON: Another mother, who is hoping her past hasn't ruined her child's future.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to ever forget how bad I felt. I don't want to ever forget what it could have done to her. It's not ever OK to do a pill again ever.