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Major League Bombshell; Non-athletes on Performance-Enhancing Drugs; Worldwide Terror Threat

Aired August 5, 2013 - 20:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin, thanks very much.

Good evening, everyone.

Tonight, look out, Lance, you got company. Another alleged sports doper speaking out. the question is, will the Yankees Alex Rodriguez fess up or keep fighting?

Also tonight, al Qaeda's top men sent a message and America goes on high alert. The latest and how real the threat actually maybe.

Plus an exclusive and chilling look through the eyes of an assassin. One who lost track of how many he's murdered. This American teen -- an American teen takes us inside the ruthless drug cartel that he killed for starting when he was just 15 years old.

We begin, though, with the biggest sports doping story since Lance Armstrong. New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, the highest paid Major Leaguer ever. Number five on the all-time homerun list, signing autographs in the ballpark in Chicago today. He once denied ever using steroids, then denied using them after 2003. Now he's suspended for allegedly using them since then.

Accused of doping and having ties to a South Florida anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis, A-Rod drew a 211-game suspension without pay. Late today he spoke to reporters.


ALEX RODRIGUEZ, NEW YORK YANKEE: I'm fighting for my life. I have to defend myself. If I don't defend myself no one else will.


COOPER: Well, the suspension takes effect Thursday. He can play during his appeal. He's playing tonight in Chicago, where Jason Carroll joins us and in Bristol, Connecticut, ESPN's T.J. Quinn has been really the lead reporting on this story that's developed over the past few weeks.

Jason, a pretty rough day for Alex Rodriguez and for Major League Baseball.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, without question. And when we saw Alex Rodriguez walk into the room just about an hour or so ago, Anderson, he seemed unmeasured, seemed to be holding back emotion just a bit. But he was also evasive in terms of answering specific questions, specifically about whether or not he used performance-enhancing drugs.

He's denied it before. He was asked about it again tonight. He said he wasn't going to get into it. Didn't want to disrupt the process that was going on.

What he did talk about, Anderson, is what this entire ordeal has been like for him.


RODRIGUEZ: The last seven months has been a nightmare. It's been probably the worst time of my life, for sure. I am thrilled and humbled to have the opportunity to put on this uniform again and to play Major League Baseball again.


CARROLL: Well, as humble as he is, Major League Baseball was very clear about why they handed up this suspension. They released a statement where they spelled out some of the details saying that the suspension is based on his use, Rodriguez's use, and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone over the course of multiple years.

They went on to say in a statement that Rodriguez attempted to cover up the violations, Anderson, and also obstruct their investigation. Rodriguez once again has repeatedly said he did not use performance-enhancing drugs. He wants everyone to, quote, "take a deep breath and have a time out," so the ordeal can play itself out -- Anderson.

COOPER: T.J., a lot of people thought coming into today that Rodriguez was going to be given the ultimatum, either except your suspension or ban you for life. Were you surprised that wasn't the case?

T.J. QUINN, ESPN INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: No, not really, Anderson. All along it wasn't clear that baseball really believed it could have a lifetime ban upheld by an arbitrator. Because whatever suspension they brought, unless Alex Rodriguez agreed to something ahead of time, it was headed to arbitration. He said he was going to fight it.

You'd be asking an arbitrator who's new on the job, replaced the longtime arbitrator who'd been fired from Major League Baseball, to take an unprecedented step. Baseball hasn't had a case like this before. They have -- the longest suspension anybody had ever had in the drug policy was 100 games. This more than doubles that.

COOPER: You've actually seen some of the evidence against A-Rod. How strong is it, T.J.? QUINN: Well, what we saw was pretty compelling. My colleague Mike Fish and I from have been working on this last -- since last summer. We did obtain some documents from the clinic. Some of them are written by Tony Bosch, the founder of the clinic himself. Just that was pretty compelling, but it probably would not have been enough to -- for baseball to lower the kind of punishment that he did.

What they needed was more to corroborate the relationship. And from all the sources we've spoken to Tony Bosch provided far more than baseball expected. Texts, e-mails, phone records, voice mails, establishing what baseball believes they can prove was a longstanding relationship where Bosch treated A-Rod, but, you know, individually, would go to his home to inject him.

And in addition, which is what brings this case, you know, to the side of all these other -- remember, there were 12 other suspensions announced today.

COOPER: Right.

QUINN: All of which were accepted by players, was they said his efforts to obstruct this investigation.

COOPER: How great, you think, are his chances at fighting this suspension based on what you've seen?

QUINN: Well, I mean you would -- based on baseball's labor history, based on, you know, what we've seen of the evidence, based on how the rest of it has been described to us, maybe he would have some success in reducing it, but you've got a player who's 38 years old, who's had, as he described in that press conference, surgeries on both hips, on his knee, who was struggling in single A pitching recently, as he was trying to come back.

Even a 100-game suspension, 150 games, which would be massive, bring him close to 40 years old when he's trying to get back on the field. So he's looking at the end of his career. Even if he's successful in reducing some of it, which would seem like his best shot, he's -- he doesn't have much left.

COOPER: And then, how do you think -- I mean, this changes the perception of him. Obviously I'm reminded of the investigation into Lance Armstrong who denied doping for years before finally coming clean. Do you think people will end up labeling Rodriguez the same way they have Armstrong, a liar or a cheater?

QUINN: Well, it's a different case, Lance, his level of true believers was something else. You know, people inspired by the story of how he overcame cancer. To succeed the way he did. With A Rod, it was different. He was a man without a country. He left Seattle and went to Texas with that huge contract. He never really fit in there, he went to the Yankees obviously and was never considered a real Yankee, whatever that means even with the 2009 World Series.

So it wasn't like he had this beloved fan base out there to begin with. And then in 2009 he admits or confirms a report that he doped when he was younger, but he said it was for a limited time. If anybody was -- felt that they could forgive him then, he's just blown that up now.

COOPER: Yes, and, Jason, I mean, to that point, he's been pretty combative throughout this whole process. I also part of the press conference tonight. What was he like throughout it?

CARROLL: Well, he was really subdued. I mean, there's no other way to say it. He was not combative. At least in this particular outing he was not. It seemed like he was really holding back emotion. Kept saying repeatedly that he would be able to say more at a later time. Kept saying repeatedly that he didn't want to disrupt the appeal process and wanted that to play out.

What I also found interesting, Anderson, was the reaction outside here to Rodriguez. I mean, I heard you guys talking about the fans. You know, you saw him signing some autographs before the game got underway here tonight. But the overwhelming majority of the fans who were out here tonight, Anderson, say it's time for Rodriguez to hang up his hat.

COOPER: And T.J., if the suspensions were upheld, how much money are we talking about? How much money is this going to cost him?

QUINN: Well, if it's the entire 211 games he's looking at a number of little factors in the contract that kick in, but about $34 million.


QUINN: It's not small chunk of change.


COOPER: So there's an --

QUINN: Then he also have --

COOPER: There's incentive for him to try to -- I mean, on many level, there's an incentive for him to try to get this whittled down?

QUINN: Plenty incentive, and also plenty incentive with the end of any suspension he serves to get back on the field. I mean, he's owed a total of close $100 million from that -- this massive contract he signed with the Yankees.

COOPER: A lot of money on the table.

Jason Carroll, T.J. Quinn, thank you so much for being on the program.

I want to dig deeper now into access the big time athletes have to performance-enhancing drugs and have had for years. Kirk Radomski, he started as a bat boy for the New York Mets. By the time federal agents showed up at his door in late 2005, he estimates he was supplying 300 ballplayers with PEDs. He tells his story in a new book "Base is Loaded."

Kirk Radomski joins us now.

Thanks so much for being here.


COOPER: What was your reaction to what happened today.

RADOMSKI: It's typical A-Rod, it's typical superstar mentality. Fight, fight, fight, and let the lawyers take care of everything.

COOPER: Fight because of the money?

RADOMSKI: Yes. Definitely. Because of the money and ego. These guys are ego driven. That's why they're good at what they're doing.

COOPER: How easy is it to get around the testing? I mean, if you know -- we were talking before the show started, you were talking about, if you know your body and you know the schedule of testing.

RADOMSKI: If you understand your body and know how drugs react in your body, which these guys have the money and access to doctors, it's not that difficult. You know, if you really want to do something that will give you that edge, it's out there. It's plenty of people out there to help you do routine blood work every day, as you take the injections in the offseason. Learn your levels, learn how fast it gets out of your system.

COOPER: So they're doing routine blood work every day?

RADOMSKI: Yes, I would imagine so. If they came to me, and I was still doing what I did, that's what I would do.

COOPER: Because you have to monitor that closely to not get caught?

RADOMSKI: Yes. You have to monitor it every day and see how long it lasts in your body. The shelf-life.


RADOMSKI: The -- of the drug. You know, HGH is something that they still have no ideas about and everyone -- NFL has a problem with, everyone has it, and it's a great -- it's something that helps your body recover and that's the main thing that these ballplayers want.

COOPER: It's been reported that you actually helped Major League Baseball with this investigation. I don't know if you can say anything about it --


COOPER: What did you do? RADOMSKI: Well, you know, I -- me and Major League Baseball are never on the same page, but one of the investigators that I grew up with is now part of the team, and he -- as, you know, a courtesy of growing up in the Bronx I turned -- he turned to me, and I've led him in the right direction, and told him what to look for, what not to, and how to approach things. And it looks like it's working.

COOPER: How -- I mean, when you -- when you watch a ball game now, can you -- do you have a sense of how many -- I mean, how widespread is this?

RADOMSKI: Well, it's gotten a lot, lot better. Since the '90s and early '00s. But the whole problem is, is growth hormones are still a major factor. Back in 2001, I started to change all those guys back then. I was using anabolics to HGH by itself.

COOPER: Why would you -- why were you encouraging them to go for HGH?

RADOMSKI: It's healthier, it's not detectable.

COOPER: It doesn't show up in tests?

RADOMSKI: It's -- it's -- you know, they'll you that Olympics and stuff, they've been tested and it's hard.

COOPER: Right.

RADOMSKI: It's just something that doesn't leave markers. I'm not a scientist, I'm not a doctor, but I know so many people have tested for drugs and never got caught with it. It's just something that helps recuperation. And when you add anabolics, that's when you really grow your muscle.

COOPER: So the anabolic, the testosterone?

RADOMSKI: The testosterone, yes. And that's why the Biogenesis thing was big because he used testosterones and what I heard is a peptide which is huge. Anyone can buy them on the Internet.

COOPER: So what are peptides? How is that different than a testosterone?

RADOMSKI: Peptides -- peptides are -- it's a compound, a couple different compounds they have of, say, growth hormones or testosterone. And it's really not the compound, it's missing a couple of things, but when you inject it in your body, it's supposed to -- fill in the markers and it acts just the same way. It doesn't leave -- you know, test positive.

COOPER: So to really crack down on this, do you have to have somebody who comes forward? I mean, is testing enough? Or do you have to have somebody on the inside who comes forward?

RADOMSKI: Well, baseball is -- the reason baseball is where it's at right now, is the union finally -- and the players, which I applaud them that they're coming forward, and they're saying enough now. And as long as the union doesn't get in the way of the testing, the testing program will work. And the game will be clean.

Will it ever be clean, no? Because there's always the next guy, there's always the next chemist that's finding things out. I mean, it's always going to be, but if the two work together, I mean, the program, what they have now should work a lot, lot better now. Just because what the union is not fighting as much.

Listen, there's some errors on testing and they've got to fight. But something blatant like this, 12 guys, didn't even fight it?

COOPER: What about other sports? I mean, the National Football League, are they -- I did a piece for "60 Minutes" a while ago on some players who were using, and it didn't seem like they were very proactive in testing.

RADOMSKI: No, and I've met some NFL players, I've talked to players. Their problem is growth hormones.

COOPER: Right.

RADOMSKI: They're -- they're huge these guys. They need recuperation, they play only once a week, so it gives them time and it works. I mean, they're trying, you know, these blood testing stuff, I mean, I can't see it working. I don't understand it from a chemical but as I'm talking to people, and I've taken growth hormones.

COOPER: Right.

RADOMSKI: I mean, I know people who pass test all the time around it.

COOPER: Do you -- as I said, you were -- you know, feds came knocking on your door. Did you ever think you would get caught?

RADOMSKI: You know --

COOPER: Did it seem like so kind of easy at the time?

RADOMSKI: Growing up the way I did in the Bronx when you do something wrong, you -- sooner or later your time runs out, and it was just a matter of time. And in a way I did, like, when I read -- wrote my book, I said it was a comfort and a relief because it got so big for me. Players were telling other players and other players are telling other players --

COOPER: Right. You were dealing with so many players.

RADOMSKI: And it would just -- my phone would never stop. And I was hiding it from everyone. The only people who knew I was doing what I was doing were the players themselves. And I would never tell on another player. And I didn't tell my wife, I didn't tell anyone in my family.

People were totally shocked. It was like a secret. COOPER: Wow.

RADOMSKI: And finally when it came to an end, it was like -- in a way it was a relief.

COOPER: Interesting. Kirk, I really appreciate you being on. Thank you very much.

RADOMSKI: No problem.

COOPER: Fascinating stuff.

The fact is, if this were just about baseball or just a celebrity with credibility problems, it wouldn't be half the story it actually is. The rest of it has to do with non-athletes and non-celebrities using the exact same drugs in pursuit of bigger muscles, longer lives. The question is, how do non-athletes manage to do it without getting into the same trouble that athletes do? The answer involves a loophole as it were on steroids.

Kyung Lah is "Keeping Them Honest" tonight.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the body of a man who uses performance-enhancing drugs. Virtually the same ones connected to Lance Armstrong, Olympian Marion Jones, and baseball player Alex Rodriguez. But this man is not a professional athlete.

Jeffrey Life is 74 with a rock hard body and he claims a mental sharpness of a man half his age.

DR. JEFFREY LIFE, 74 YEARS OLD, USES TESTOSTERONE AND HGH: Everyone's going to age. I'm not against aging. I'm against getting old.

LAH: And he claims no one has to with daily rigorous workouts, a strict low-carb diet and injections of testosterone and human growth hormone or HGH.

LIFE: We use it to improve health, to slow disease and prevent disease, and to improve quality of life. I'd like to think I'm kind of blazing a trail for the baby boomer generation.

LAH: A journey that Dr. Life, a family physician, began years ago. This was him before exercise and supplements. This is him today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How does this 74-year-old doctor keep looking younger and younger as he ages? The answer is the Cenegenics Elite Health Program.

LAH: Cenegenics is the company that runs a chain of clinics calling itself the nation's largest age management group. Part of the exploding anti-aging industry that relies in part on testosterone and HGH. Last year Cenegenics reports they made $100 million in revenue. The anti-aging industry targets America's about 80 million aging baby boomers looking for any way to turn back the hands of time.

The Food and Drug Administration regulates the use of HGH, stressing the hormone is not an approved treatment for anti-aging.

So how does Cenegenics not break any laws? By focusing on a natural loophole of sorts. The natural depletion of hormones as we age.

LIFE: We're all about correcting deficiencies and getting levels up to a healthy level.

LAH: Dr. Life says his patients who are given HGH suffer from growth hormone deficiency. One of the few FDA approved reasons for taking HGH. He says patients here go through a pituitary grand test to meet the FDA regulations.

Cenegenics told 62-year-old Gerald Slazenger that was his problem. Like all patients who take the hormones, Slazenger said he is monitored and tested four times a year at Cenegenics for his testosterone and HGH intake. He now feels like he's 40.

That comes with a hefty price tag. All this can cost up to $15,000 a year, cash only.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My health is first and whatever it costs me is worth it.

LAH (on camera): If you think this is too good to be true, you're not alone. Many doctors agree, saying, sure, there may be short-term gain, but there will be long-term cost.

DR. TOM PERLS, BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: It's a fallacy to say that even in low doses that these drugs are not harmful.

LAH (voice-over): Dr. Tom Perls, a professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine, would not talk specifically about Cenegenics but he is a vocal critic of the anti-aging movement.

PERLS: I do believe that giving growth hormone for anti-aging is quackery.

LAH: He says there are no reputable studies that showed the hormones stopped aging and warns HGH in particular can enlarge organs, cause high blood pressure and even trigger cancer.

(On camera): What do you say to the medical community who says you're just selling a bunch of voodoo and this is dangerous because it's so untested?

LIFE: We do not know what the long term consequences are going to be of testosterone replacement therapy and growth hormone replacement therapy.

LAH: What's wrong with just getting old?

LIFE: It's an argument a lot of doctors use, but who wants to get old when you don't have to?

LAH: If next year, for some reason you get cancer, will you blame these supplements?

LIFE: No. No, I will not.

LAH (voice-over): What he will do is continue to be the poster grandpa of a company and a movement that believes the riskier move is to turn away from this fountain of youth they found in diet, dumbbells and drugs.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Las Vegas.


COOPER: Fascinating stuff. Let us know what you think, follow me on twitter @andersoncooper.

Up next, the threat behind a massive terror alert, and whether it's a sign that al Qaeda is gaining strength yet again.

And later, what we're learning in the ugly aftermath in that deadly incident on California's Venice Beach. One killed, 15 hurt by a car speeding down the boardwalk.


COOPER: Hey, welcome back.

There's an answer tonight to what got American officials so spooked about a possible terror attack they closed a string of embassies and issued a global travel alert. It also explains why lawmakers on both sides of the aisles spent the weekend going on TV talking about how credible they believe the threat to be.

CNN has learned that the deciding factor was a message from the al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to the leader of the Yemen affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, telling him to, quote, "do something."

U.S. officials also telling us there may be several sources of related intelligence, including electronic intercepts, Web postings and information gleaned from interrogating couriers or other operative. Bottom line, the alert is still on. Nineteen embassies are going to stay closed for the rest of the week, and questions are growing about al Qaeda's reach.

Want to talk about it with former CIA and FBI senior official Philip Mudd, also national security analyst Peter Bergen and terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.

Paul, let me start with you. What do you make of the latest intelligence between al Qaeda's top leaders saying do something?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, it's really very concerning when you have the top leader of al Qaeda who sends a message, it would appear, as the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to do something. Not clear what that something was, whether it was something in Yemen perhaps against U.S. embassies there or something in the region. But clearly that's led to great concern from U.S. counter terrorism -- Anderson.

COOPER: And Peter, the guy who's head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, this guy, Wuhayshi, how dangerous is he? What do we know about him?

PETER BERGEN: Well, he's bin Laden's former personal secretary and so he's part of the inner circle. He's a -- you know, but you can interpret the fact that Ayman al-Zawahiri is reaching out to the Yemeni affiliate as a sign of al Qaeda's sent call weaknesses. I mean, we're also reporting that this guy has now been appointed al Qaeda's number two. Well, that might be because back in Pakistan, where the al Qaeda core is located there's no one else to appointed.

You know, the leadership of al Qaeda central has just been decimated. They're left really with a very weak or nonexistent bench. And so you could sort of make another interpretation of this reaching out to Yemen, that, you know, we are so weakened that we have to look around the world for somebody else to step up to the plate.

And that group itself is very weak in Yemen. They've tried to do numerous attacks outside the country and they've never succeeded.

COOPER: There have also been, Peter, expanding drone strikes in Yemen.

BERGEN: Yes. I mean, they've devastated about 30 of the top leaders and senior operatives in Yemen. Unfortunately, they have yet to find the extremely capable bomb maker, but this bomb maker, capable as he is, has not been able to implement any successful attack against an American target.

COOPER: And Phil, and yet, despite what Peter is saying here, you do have this travel alert, you have all these embassies closing, you heard a lot of politicians over the weekend saying, the chatter is reminiscent to the chatter we heard before 911. From what we found about this communication chain today, does that seem right to you, to be compared with the same amount of chatter before 9/11?

PHILIP MUDD, FORMER SENIOR OFFICIAL, CIA AND FBI: I don't think it's right at all. Look, we have a serious threat because of the credibility of the information. And I think it's fair to go out, despite the vagueness of this, it's fair to go out to the American people and say, you need to take some precautionary steps.

But compared to what I witnessed in 2001 and 2002 when I sat at the threat table at the CIA, back to 2005, '06, '07, when I was at the threat table at the FBI, to be in Washington as a politician and to screw Americans into the ceiling about a threat that's comparable to pre-9/11, I don't buy it. We ought to say be concerned but don't over react.

COOPER: So do you believe -- you know, you have President Obama awhile ago saying that al Qaeda was on its heels, I think that's the quote. Do you believe that is still the case? I mean, is one interpretation, that Peter -- you know, that Peter -- one idea Peter forwarded is that, you know, this is a sign of desperation on the part of al Qaeda Central, trying to tell al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to do something? Is that your read on it?

MUDD: My read is that al Qaeda is on a long decline, but Americans' perspective of time is very short. We measure time in this country in terms of months, years. Al Qaeda, when I -- when I talked to people debriefing al Qaeda detainees, al Qaeda talks about time in terms of decades or centuries.

The decline is very slow in terms of al Qaeda capabilities. There will be episodic threats that we're seeing today. We should not confuse that, though, with the resurgence of the al Qaeda organization.

COOPER: So Paul, the White House say -- they wouldn't say whether the U.S. homeland is a potential target. Was that, do you think, out of an abundance of caution? Or -- I mean, wouldn't we be seeing amped up security here if that was the case?

CRUICKSHANK: I think so, Anderson, and there's no indication yet from the administration that the U.S. homeland is a target. The epicenter of this threat seems to be in Yemen and beyond that in the Middle East and South Asia.

COOPER: And Peter, if Benghazi hadn't happened almost a year ago, do you think the U.S. government would have responded the same way this time, closing all these embassies for this expanded period of time?

BERGEN: I mean, do we -- if the thought experiment is, you know, Benghazi hadn't happened, clearly this reaction would be very different. I mean, no one wants to sit at some congressional witness, you know, table describing an attack that could have been averted because there was information in the system.

Everybody -- you know, the State Department itself is saying, in an abundance of caution, we're closing these embassies. That doesn't mean that there's some, you know, ultra specific threat against 19 different facilities that are closed over the following -- over this coming week. So without Benghazi, the reaction, I think, would be very different.

The political costs of Benghazi for the Obama administration, as you know, Anderson, was very, very large. And that is the political context here.

COOPER: And Phil, what happens now? I mean, does the U.S. just wait this out? Does the threat just kind of go away? At some point the embassy is re-opened?

MUDD: Well, I'll tell you. This is really fascinating from someone who once sat in the chair. Back when we're going, you remember, from yellow to orange back in, let's say, '03, '04, '05, we used to sit there and watch the threat matrix drive us, to escalate the threat warning to the American people, and then you'd say, how do we get out of this?

In this case, something we haven't talked much about, the American government has said at the end of August the travel warnings will expire. That's the American government saying, we're not sure whether we can mitigate this strength, we're not sure whether this will decline, but we want a way out and the way out is to say, there's an end date on the threat. Fascinating.

COOPER: Interesting. Philip Mudd, I appreciate you being on. Paul Cruickshank and Peter Bergen, always great to have you.

MUDD: Sure.

COOPER: Thank you.

Up next, a bride on her honeymoon killed. Several others injured, a man plows a car into a popular California boardwalk, packed with people. All of it caught on tape. The video and the latest in the investigation ahead.

Plus, a 360 exclusive. This is fascinating. Two Americans, just teenagers, who became drug cartel assassins, they talked for the first time on how they were recruited to kill.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In all, how many people did you kill?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea.

ZARRELLA: No idea? You lost track?


ZARRELLA: I mean, could you guess or are we talking about 10, 20, 30, 50?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between 20 and 30.



COOPER: Welcome back. In California tonight, the man shown in the surveillance video is being held on a $1 million bond after he allegedly used this car as a high speed weapon on the Venice Beach boardwalk. The video shows in just minutes before the deadly rampage, a newlywed who was on her honeymoon was killed. More than a dozen other people injured.

It happened around 6:00 Saturday evening, arguably the worst possible time. The boardwalk was packed with tourists and residents were out on a sunset strolls. The timing and what witnesses told police raise the obvious question. Did the suspect plot the attack to inflict maximum damage? CNN's Paul Vercammen reports.


PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Surveillance video taken from a nearby restaurant shows the suspect's car plowing into people on the crowded Venice boardwalk and swerving around barriers.

DAVE BLACKBURN, SANTA MONICA: He just drove and took that left turn down the center of the boardwalk and just started driving. Bodies were scattering and bodies were flying in the air and people were screaming and it was absolute mayhem.

VERCAMMEN: A second camera angle shows the driver getting out of his car, apparently casing the popular boardwalk. He gets back into the sedan and floors it.

LANDON BLACKBURN, EYEWITNESS: He had to have pressed his foot to the gas, you know, pedal to the metal because the tires started screeching. He was looking for blood. He -- that guy was -- that guy, his intention was to kill people.

VERCAMMEN: An Italian tourist on her honeymoon was killed and 15 others injured in a scene a quarter mile long. Police say all of the wounded had been released from the hospital and that the suspect, 38- year-old Nathan Campbell of Los Angeles, has been charged with murder. Just two hours after this horrifying hit and run, Campbell surrendered to police in neighboring Santa Monica. Authorities say he told them, I think you're looking for me.

The woman killed is Alice Gropioni, 32 years old from Bellona, Italy. The Italian consulate says Gropioni and her husband, Christian Cassady, were married July 20th and that the new groom was by her side at the time of the accident and tried to pull his wife away from the speeding car. If there is a motive in this carnage, police aren't saying right now. But they did say that Campbell was bent on evil. Paul Vercammen, CNN, Los Angeles.


COOPER: That's unbelievable. There's a lot more we're following tonight. Isha is here with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham are in Cairo to meet with Egypt's interim leaders as well as Muslim Brotherhood leaders. President Obama asked the senators to make the trip. On CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," Graham said the Egyptian military can't keep running the country and pushed for democratic elections. Several thousand supporters of deposed President Morsy marched through downtown Cairo today, calling for him to be reinstated.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is threatening to try to keep CNN and NBC from hosting Republican primary debates in 2016 unless the networks cancel upcoming specials about Hillary Clinton. Both CNN and NBC say they will move forward with the special.

Anderson, meet the world's first stem cell burger, compliments of London scientists. It took years of research and $330,000 to develop. Volunteers said it's close to meat, but not really juicy. It needs fat, salt and pepper. The university researcher who developed it says he hopes cultured beef will help solve the looming food crisis to put an end to animal cruelty.

You are, of course, a fuzzy eater so I should ask you, would you eat it?

COOPER: Sure, why not? I don't know. I too need fat, salt and pepper.

SESAY: Well, you may be looking in the wrong place in that case.

COOPER: All right, Isha, thanks very much.

Just ahead, what Ariel Castro's family salvaged today from his house ahead of its scheduled demolition.

Plus a 360 exclusive, this is really fascinating. Their first face to face interview with a reporter, two American teenagers described how they ended up as hitmen for the Mexican cartel. One of them was just 13 years old when he became a paid killer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't believe what I was seeing, people getting tortured, killed, decapitated.



COOPER: This charge of trying to extort a quarter million dollars from celebrity chef, Paula Deen, tonight there's a major development in the case. The latest ahead.


COOPER: Tonight a 360 exclusive, chilling is an overused word, but this story warrants it. You're about to see why in 2009, we reported on child assassins. Here in the United States, American teenagers acting as hitmen for a Mexican cartel. It sounded unbelievable, but it was very real. Two of those teenagers are now serving life sentences and they sat down with CNN's Ed Lavandera for their first face to face interviews. Here's what they told him.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Look into the eyes of Gabriel Cardona and you see a baby-faced 26-year-old, and then he blinks and you see something else. Another set of sinister eyes staring back. These tattoos on his eyelids, these eyes are a window into the soul of a drug cartel assassin. (on camera): In all, how many people did you kill?


LAVANDERA: No idea? You lost track?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So out of the world, man, when you're in Mexico.

LAVANDERA: Could you guess, are we talking 10, 20, 30, 50?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between 20 and 30.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Gabriel Cardona says he was 15 years old when the Zetas drug cartel recruited him to kill. He was part of a secret crew of hitmen made up of American teenagers living in Laredo, Texas, along with this man, Rosalio Reta. Cardona and Reta spoke with CNN from Texas prisons where they're serving life sentences for murder. Both men say they worked for Miguel Angel Trevino, the ruthless violent leader of the Zetas drug cartel who was recently arrested in Mexico.

ROSALIO RETA, CARTEL HITMAN: He's not going to tell you to do something he won't do himself, that's why a lot of people follow him.

LAVANDERA (on camera): How much control do you think he had of Nuevo Laredo?

RETA: Absolute control.

LAVANDERA: Reta says he was 13 years old when two friends brought him to the Mexican town of Nuevo Laredo, just across the border from Texas. He says his friends took him to a ranch on the outskirts of town and he says that what he saw there changed his life forever in an instant he went from being a 13-year-old sixth grade student to a killer.

RETA: We pulled up and just I couldn't believe what I was seeing. People getting tortured, killed, decapitated, it was kind of hard to believe. I knew that day my life had just changed forever.

LAVANDERA: Reta then says an argument broke out. Miguel Trevino, the boss, wanted to know why Reta, the stranger was there. Reta says Trevino handed him a gun, they stood over a man tied up on the ground.

(on camera): What did Trevino tell you?

RETA: To kill that person. I have to do it. What option do I have? If I don't do it, I know what's going to happen to me.

LAVANDERA: And then after you did it, you shot him?

RETA: Yes, sir.

LAVANDERA: How many times? RETA: Multiple times.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): A 13-year-old assassin was born.

RETA: The first day I had to take somebody's life. That's a day I'm never going to be able to forget. After that I had no life.

LAVANDERA (on camera): But you kept on killing after the first time at that ranch?

RETA: I had to. That's what a lot of people don't understand.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): That's what Reta says now, but in this police interrogation video. The young killer relished the deadly power he wielded. Reta bragged to a Laredo police detective, that killing made him feel like Superman, that taking the gun out of his hand was like taking candy from a kid. How in the world did it come to this for two American teens?

(on camera): Cardona and Reta grew up here on Lincoln Street, just a few blocks away from the Mexican border. This is the neighborhood where they became friends. Like many people around here, they each had families on both sides of the border in Mexico and the United States. They could easily move back and forth between both sides. And as it turns out, that's exactly what the Zetas drug cartel was looking for.

(voice-over): Cardona says as a teenager, he started stealing cars and selling them in Mexico, then he started carrying drugs and weapons across the border, working his way up the cartel ranks to become a hit man. Cardona dropped out of school in ninth grade.


LAVANDERA (on camera): Did you feel like you could do whatever you wanted, you were untouchable?

CARDONA: Yes, it gives you that sense. You can do whatever without being touched or having that sense of power.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Cardona says cartel leaders supplied him with thousands of dollars a week, a Mercedes and a house. The money was seductive and intoxicating for these teens who came from the ram shackled streets of a Texas border town.

(on camera): You enjoyed the money, but did you enjoy the killing?

CARDONA: We did enjoy the money. You don't enjoy what you're doing.

LAVANDERA: It didn't seem to bother you that much?


LAVANDERA (voice-over): Cardona and Reta say they would wait for the phone to ring. A Zetas member would give them a name and they went hunting, killing one rival in this car while the victim's wife and child watched. Each time these men say they were paid 5,000 to $10,000, sometimes more, depending on how important the target was.

(on camera): Did you feel like you were the king of the town?

CARDONA: At that time, you never think it's going to end because it keeps on doing.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Eventually Laredo police caught up to them. Cardona was arrested in a raid. Reta fearing he was going to be killed while working at a job in Mexico, turned himself into American authorities.

RETA: I couldn't take it anymore, that's one of the risks I took, that I just couldn't take it anymore. It was real hard for me. I wasn't living my life.


COOPER: It's really fascinating, Ed, to hear from these guys. I mean, they don't really seem to show much remorse at all, except for themselves. What's the most time you spent interviewing them?

LAVANDERA: You know, Anderson, one of the things that I thought really stood out to me, is that I expected to hear from them, that whenever they would carry out these assassinations, these attacks, that perhaps they were well planned, that they had been well trained. Both of them said there wasn't a lot of planning, they would get a call, there would be a name, and think would go find the person, it wasn't like they were trailing the person.

That should offer a lot of pause to people. That's where innocent bystanders can be gunned down by accident, cases of mistaken identity and that sort of thing. The other thing that really stood out to me is Rosalio Reta told me that he often gets what essentially is fan mail, young men who write to him asking him how he got into that world, kind of fascinated by it all. Even asking him for recommendations and making connections for them out there in that world and that I should think would leave people with pause as well.

COOPER: One guy's smiling as he's recounting the killings and stuff, creepy. Ed Lavandera, fascinating stuff. Thank you.

Paula Deen's empire is taking some recent hits obviously. Tonight, an extortionist is trying to get millions from the chef. New details in the case ahead.


COOPER: Ahead tonight, what Ariel Castro's family took from his home before it's demolished?


COOPER: Let's get caught up on some of the other stories we're following. Isha Sesay joins us again with a "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

SESAY: Anderson, the man accused of trying to extort celebrity chef, Paul Deen, has signed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. He allegedly threatened to reveal damaging statements made by Deen unless he was paid $250,000. No details on the terms of the deal.

Relatives of Ariel Castro removed musical instruments, tools and other items from the convicted kidnapper's house in West Cleveland ahead of its scheduled demolition possibly this week. Over the weekend, one of Castro's captives, Gina Dejesus made a surprise appearance at Cleveland's Puerto Rican parade.

Anderson, a heartbreaking "Jeopardy" call, during kids' week, the 12-year-old Thomas Hurling knew the answer to the final question, emancipation proclamation, but he spelled it wrong adding an extra "T." The judges didn't cut him any slack. Thomas took second place winning $2,000. He said he was cheated. I have one word for the judges, boo.

COOPER: Really?

SESAY: Yes, really.

COOPER: Look, you have to spell things correctly. It wouldn't have been fair to the other kids. It wasn't fair for him.

SESAY: They could have cut him some slack. He put in an extra t and he was probably nervous.

COOPER: Listen, I've lost at "Jeopardy" too, I know how it feels.

SESAY: Nobody has high expectations for you thought, the little kid on the other hand.

COOPER: I have won too and I lost one. I lost to Cheech Marin, but he's really smart.

SESAY: You have no shame. You put it all out there again. Thank you, Mr. Cooper.

COOPER: All right, Isha, thanks. The "Ridiculist" is next.


COOPER: Time now for the "Ridiculist." Tonight, we delve into the complex and confounding world of vanity license plates, particularly the system in which some are rejected. Our affiliate station in Tampa Bay, Florida recently did an expose on this, amazing example of license plates that didn't quite make the cut.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: CU-NHELL, rejected. DAAA MMM, rejected. GUN SAFE approved, but GUN PLAY rejected.


COOPER: Interesting, right. I get that the good people, the Department of Highway and Safety in Motor Vehicles don't want them driving around with "See You In Hell" on their license plates, but some other vanity plate slogans are a little trickier.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): What do you think about these plates, OLF FART and HORN MAN?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OLD FART, I probably approve, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it backwards, OLD FART, rejected and HORN MAN approved.


COOPER: HORN MAN good, OLD FART bad, got it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about these?




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: BIG JONSN was approved by the state, BIG TURD was rejected.


COOPER: My question is who wanted to drive around with BIG TURD on their license plate. I mean, is that a cute nickname now? Is what the kids are calling each other? I don't get that one. The selection process does seem a bit random and as local viewers spotted already a bunch of unique and somewhat questionable license plates in the streets of Florida.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: SEE FOOD on a save the manatee plate, Krakhed on the back of a motorcycle, the ever so conspicuous "IM A SPY" tag, and "Help 2P," possibly belonging to a urologist.


COOPER: I don't even want to think about that one. You know what's coming, we have to play the Seinfeld clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got my new plates, but they mixed them up. And I got someone's vanity plate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do they say?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, Dr. Cosmo Kramer, proctologist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, thanks. Have a good day.


COOPER: I don't think that license plate would make it past the Florida committee and I'm guessing neither would this one.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Maybe if I was someone like you I could have a new start.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Did you see my license plate?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so Tobias, hoping to straighten out his image set out on blue start.


COOPER: Think about it for a minute, and I'm sure you'll get it. So here's to you, Florida's Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, thank you for doing what you do. Keeping the streets safe from big turds and old farts alike. We salute you on the "RidicuList."

That does it for us. We'll see you again one hour from now at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. Another edition of 360. "PIERS MORGAN LIVE" starts now.