Return to Transcripts main page


Alex Rodriguez Suspended; Terror Warnings

Aired August 5, 2013 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

Tonight, look out, Lance. You have 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 sends a message and America goes on high alert, the latest on how real the threat actually may be.

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 home run list signing autographs at the ballpark in Chicago today. He once denied ever using steroids and then denied using them after 2003 and now he's suspended for allegedly using them since then, accused of doping having ties to a South Florida anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis.

A-Rod drew a 211-game suspension without pay and late today he spoke to reporters.


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


COOPER: The suspension takes affect 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 reporter on the story since it's developed over the past few weeks.

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

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely without question. When we saw Alex Rodriguez walk into the room just about an hour or so ago, he seemed measured, seemed to be holding back emotion just a bit, but he was also evasive, in terms of answering specific questions, specifically about of whether or not he used performance- enhancing drugs. He has denied it before, he was asked about it again tonight. He said wasn't going to get into it. He didn't want it to disrupt the process that was going on.

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

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 we will ban you for life. Were you surprised that wasn't the case?

T.J. QUINN, ESPN 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, and he said he was going to fight it. You would be asking an arbitrator who's new on the job, replaced a longtime arbiter who has been fired, for Major League Baseball to take an unprecedented step.

Baseball hasn't had a case like this before. The longest suspension anyone had ever had before on the drug policy was 100 games. This more than doubles that.

COOPER: You have actually seen some of the evidence against A- Rod. How strong is it, T.J.? QUINN: What we saw was pretty compelling. My colleague Mike Fish and I from have been working on this since last summer. We did obtain some documents from the clinic. Some of them written by Tony Bosch, the founder of the clinic himself.

Just that was pretty compelling, but it probably would not have been enough for baseball to lower the kind of punishment that it did. What they needed was more to corroborate the relationship. And from all the sources we have 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 individually, would go to his home to inject him.

In addition, which is what brings this case to the side of all these other -- remember, there were 12 other suspensions now today, all of which were accepted by players -- was they said his efforts to obstruct this investigation.

COOPER: How great do you think are his chances of fighting this suspension, based on what you have seen?

QUINN: Well, I mean, based on baseball's labor history, based on what we have seen of the evidence, based on how the rest of it's been described to us, maybe he would have some success in reducing it, but you have 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 against 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. 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 doesn't have much left.

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

QUINN: Well, it's a different case. Lance, his level of true believers was something else. People inspired by the story of how he overcame cancer to succeed the way he did.

With A-Rod, he was different. He was always a man without a country. He left Seattle and went to Texas with that huge contract. He never really fit in there, and he went to the Yankees obviously. And he was never considered a real Yankee, whatever that means, even with the 2009 World Series.

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 felt that they could forgive him then, he's just blown that up now.


And, Jason, to that point, he's been pretty combative throughout this whole process. I only saw part of the press conference tonight. What was he like throughout it?

CARROLL: He was really subdued. I mean, there's no other way to say it.

I would not say that he was not combative, at least in this particular outing he was not. It seemed like he was really holding back emotion. He kept saying repeatedly 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 was the reaction outside here to Rodriguez. I heard you guys talking about the fans. You saw him sign some autographs before the game got under way here tonight. But the overwhelming majority of the fans who were out here tonight say it's time for Rodriguez to hang up his hat.

COOPER: T.J. Quinn, if the suspensions are 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 -- there are a number of little factors in the contract that kick in, but about $34 million. It's no small chunk of change.


COOPER: On many levels, there's an incentive for him to try to get this whittled down?

QUINN: Plenty incentive, and also plenty of incentive with the end of any suspension, he serves to get back on the field. He's owed a total of close to $100 million of 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 the access that 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 ball players with PEDs. He tells the story in a new book "Bases Loaded."

Kirk Radomski joins us now.

Thanks very much for being here.


COOPER: What was your reaction to what happened today?

RADOMSKI: It's typical. A-Rod's a 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 as good as what they're doing.

COOPER: How easy is it to get around the testing if you know -- we were talking about 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 the access to doctors. It's not that difficult. If you want really to do something that will give you that edge, it's out there.

There's plenty of people out there to help you do routine blood work every day, as you take your injections in the off-season. Learn your levels, learn how fast it gets out of your system.

COOPER: 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 do, that's what I would do.

COOPER: Because you have to monitor it 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 of the drug.


RADOMSKI: HGH is something that they still have no ideas about, and everyone -- NFL has a problem with it. Everyone has it, and it's a great -- it's something that helps your body recover and that's the main thing these ball players want.

COOPER: It's been reported you actually helped Major League Baseball with this investigation.



COOPER: What did you do?

RADOMSKI: Well, 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 as a courtesy of growing up in the Bronx, he turned to me, and I have led him in the right direction, and told him what to look for, what not to and how to approach things. It looks like it's working.

COOPER: When you watch a ball game now, can you -- do you have a sense of how many people -- how widespread is this?

RADOMSKI: Well, it's gotten a lot, lot better since the '90s and early 2000s. But the whole problem is, growth hormones are still a major factor. Back in 2001, I started to change all those guys back then that were using anabolics to HGH by itself.

COOPER: 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 very -- they will tell you, the Olympics and stuff, they have been testing it. It's hard. 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 been tested for drugs and never got caught with it.

It's just something that helps recuperation. When you add anabolics to it, that's when you really grow your muscle.

COOPER: The anabolics, that's the testosterone?

RADOMSKI: The testosterone, yes.

That's why the Biogenesis thing was big, because he used testosterone and what I heard is peptides, which is huge. Anyone can buy them on the Internet.

COOPER: What are peptides? How is that different than testosterone.

RADOMSKI: Peptides are -- it's a compound, a couple different compounds they have of growth hormones or testosterone.

And it's really not the compound, it's missing a couple things, and 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 -- test positive.

COOPER: 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 someone on the inside who comes forward?

RADOMSKI: Well, baseball -- 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. 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 is finding things out.

There's always going to be -- but if the two work together, 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 have to fight. But something blatant like this, 12 guys didn't even fight it?

COOPER: But what about the National Football League, are they -- I did pieces 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 met some NFL players, I have talked to players. Their problem is growth hormones. They're huge these guys, and they need recuperation. They play only once a week, so it gives them time and it works.

I mean, they're trying these blood tests and stuff, I can't see it working. I don't understand it from a chemical -- but as I'm talking to people, and I have taken growth hormones, I know people pass tests all the time that are on it.

COOPER: As I said, feds came knocking on your door. Did you ever think you would get caught?


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, sooner or later your time runs out, it was just a matter of time.

In a way I did. Like, when I 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 were telling other players.

COOPER: Right. You were dealing with so many.

RADOMSKI: And it was 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.

I didn't tell my wife, I didn't tell anyone in my family. People were totally shocked. It was like a secret. Finally when it did come to an end, 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 about a celebrity with credibility problems, it wouldn't be half the story it actually is. The rest of it has to do non-athletes and non- celebrities using the exact same drugs in pursuit of biggest muscles, longer lives.

The question is how to non-athletes manage to do it, without getting in the same trouble 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. Jeffry Life is 74, with a rock-hard body and, he claims, the mental sharpness of a man half his age.

DR. JEFFRY LIFE, USES PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS: 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: What we use it for is to improve health, to slow disease and prevent disease. And to improve quality of life. I would like to think I'm blazing kind of 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 on a new book releasing next month.

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 are 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 gland test to meet the FDA regulations.

Cenegenics told 62-year-old Gerald Schlesinger that was his problem. Like all patients who take the hormone, Schlesinger says he's 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.

GERALD SCHLESINGER, PATIENT: 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 costs.

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

LAH: Dr. Tom Perls, a professor of medicine at Boston University's 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 in particular for anti-aging is quackery.

LAH: He says there are no reputable studies that show the hormones stop 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 this is voodoo. And this is potentially dangerous because it's so untested.

LIFE: We don't 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, 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've found in diet, dumbbells and drugs.

Kyung Lah, CNN, Las Vegas.


COOPER: It's fascinating stuff.

Let us know what you think. Follow me on Twitter @AndersonCooper.

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

And later, what we're learning in the ugly aftermath of 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's also explains why lawmakers on both sides of the aisle spent the weekend going on TV talking about how credible they believe the threat to be.

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

Bottom line, the alert is still on and 19 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 leader 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 to 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 this led to great concern from U.S. counterterrorism, Anderson. COOPER: 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, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, he's bin Laden's former personal secretary and so he's part of the inner circle.

But you can interpret the fact that Ayman al-Zawahiri is reaching out to the Yemeni affiliate as a sign of al Qaeda's core weaknesses, and we're also reporting that this guy has now been appointed al Qaeda's number two. That might be because back in Pakistan, where al Qaeda core is located, there's no one else to appoint.

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 we are so weakened that we have to look around the world for somebody else to step up to the plate. That group itself is very weak in Yemen. They have tried to do numerous attacks outside the country and they have never succeeded.

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

BERGEN: Yes, they have 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 hither to.

COOPER: And, Phil, 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 out about this communication chain today, does that seem right to you, to be compared with the same amount of chatter before 9/11?


Look, we have a serious threat here because of the credibility of the information. 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 2001-2002 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 believe it. We ought to say be concerned but don't overreact.

COOPER: Do you believe -- you had President Obama a while ago saying that al Qaeda was on its heels, and I think that was the quote. Do you believe that's still the case? Is one interpretation, Peter's -- one idea Peter forwarded is that 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 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: Paul, the White House today wouldn't say whether the U.S. homeland was a potential target. Was that out do you think of an abundance of caution? Or 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: 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 extended period of time?

BERGEN: I mean, do we -- if the thought experiment is, Benghazi hadn't happened, clearly this reaction would be very different.

No one wants to sit at some congressional witness table describing an attack that could have been averted because there was information in the system. Everybody -- the State Department itself is saying, in an abundance of caution, we're closing these embassies. That doesn't mean there's some ultra-specific threat against 19 different facilities that are closed over this coming week.

Without Benghazi, the reaction, I think would be very different. The political costs of Benghazi to the Obama administration, as you know, Anderson, was very, very large. And that is the political context here.

COOPER: Phil, what happens now? Does the U.S. just wait this out? Does the threat just kind of go away? At some point, the embassies reopen?

MUDD: I'll tell you, this is really fascinating from someone who once sat in the chair.

Back when we were 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 would 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 good to have you. 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, the latest on the investigation ahead.

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


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In all, how many people did you kill?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No idea? You lost track?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could you guess? Or are we talking like 10, 20, 30, 50?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Between 20 and 30.



COOPER: Welcome back. The man shown in surveillance video 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 him 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 p.m. Saturday evening, arguably, the worst possible time. The boardwalk was packed with tourists. 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. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He just drove and took that left turn down the center of the boardwalk and just started driving. And bodies were scattering, and bodies were flying in the air. People were screaming, and it was absolute mayhem.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had to have pressed his foot to the gas pedal -- you know, pedal to the metal. Because the tires started screeching. I saw him, and he was looking for blood. That guy was -- that guy's 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 have 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 Guppioni, 32 years old from Bologna, Italy. The Italian consulate says Guppioni and her husband, Christian Casadei, were married July 20, 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, HLN ANCHOR: 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 specials.

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

You are, of course, a fussy eater, so I should ask you. Would you...

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

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

COOPER: OK. 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. The first face-to-face interview with a reporter. Two American teenagers describing how they ended up as hitmen for a Mexican cartel. One them was just 13 years old when he became a paid killer.


ROSALIO RETA, CARTEL ASSASSIN: I couldn't believe what I was seeing. People getting tortured, killed, decapitated.



COOPER: He's charged with 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 hit men for a Mexican cartel. It sounded unbelievable, but it was very real. The two 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, you see a baby-faced 21-year-old, and then he blinks and you see something else. Another set of sinister eyes staring back. These tattooed 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?

CARDONA: Yes. So -- so out of the world, man, when you're in Mexico.

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

CARDONA: 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 hit men, made up of American teenagers living in Laredo, Texas, along with this man, Rosalio Reta.

Cardona and Reta spoke to CNN from the 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.

RETA: I know this man. He's not going to tell you to do something that he won't do it himself, and that's why a lot of people followed him.

LAVANDERA (on camera): How much control do you think he had of Nuevo Laredo and that whole area of Northern Mexico?

RETA: Absolute control.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): 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 does Trevino tell you?

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

LAVANDERA: And then after did you 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 forget. After that I had no life.

LAVANDERA (on camera): But you kept on killing after that 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: You can be a Superman.

LAVANDERA: 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.

CARDONA: It was great.

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 you want 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 teams, who came from the ramshackle 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'd go 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 just keeps on going.

LAVANDERA: Eventually Laredo police caught up to them. Cardona was arrested in a raid. Reta, fearing he was going to be killing while working 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. It was -- I came -- I was living my life -- I wasn't living my life.


COOPER: Fascinating to hear from these guys. They don't seem to show much remorse at all, except maybe for themselves. What stood out most in the time you spent interviewing them?

LAVANDERA: You know, Anderson, one of the things that I thought really stood out to me, I expected to hear from them that whenever they carried out these assassinations, these attacks, that perhaps they were well-planned, that they had been well-trained.

But both of them said there wasn't really a whole lot of planning. They'd get a call. There'd be a name, and then they would go find the person. It wasn't like they were trailing the person. And I think that should offer a lot of pause to a lot of people. That's where incident bystanders can be gunned down by accident. A case of mistaken identity and that sort of thing.

And the other thing that really stood out to me is Rosalio Reta told he often gets what essentially is fan mail. Young men who write to him asking 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 narco world, and that, I think, should leave a lot of people with pause, as well.

COOPER: Yes. One guy is smiling while he's recounting the killings and stuff. Creepy. Ed Lavandera. Fascinating stuff. Thank you.

Paula Deen's empire has taken some recent hits, obviously. Tonight it is safe from the would-be extortionist accused of trying to wring a quarter million dollars 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, first to Northeastern [SIC] Pennsylvania, where a gunman opened fire at a municipal meeting, killing three. Several others were critically wounded. It happened in Ross Township about 75 miles north of Philadelphia. The gunman is in custody. The motive is unknown.

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

And relatives of Ariel Castro removed musical instruments, tools and other items from the convicted kidnapper's house in West -- 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.

COOPER: Isha, thanks.

Find out who's on "The RidicuList," coming up next.


COOPER: Time now for "The RidicuList," and tonight we delve into the complex and confounding world of vanity license plates, particularly the system by why which certain ones are rejected.

Our affiliate new station in Tampa Bay, Florida, recently did an expose on this, chock full of amazing examples of license plates that didn't quite make the cut.



Daaammm, rejected.

Gun safe, approved, but gun play, rejected.


COOPER: Interesting, right? I get that the good people at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles don't want Floridians driving around with "C-U-N-HEL" on their license plates, but some of the vanity plate slogans are a little trickier.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think about these plates? Old fart and horn-man?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Old fart, probably yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got it backwards. Old fart rejected. Horn-man approved.


COOPER: Horn-man, good. Old fart, bad. Got it?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How about these?

Big turd and "BG Jonsn."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, Big Johnson got rejected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would reject Big Johnson.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "BG 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 that 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 district of Florida.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "See food" on a "save the manatee" plate. "Krakhead" on the back of a motorcycle. The ever-so-conspicuous "Ima spy" tag, and "Help 2 P," possibly belonging to a urologist.


COOPER: I don't want to think about that one. You know what's coming, right? We have to play the "Seinfeld" clip. You remember. I know you do. Look.


MICHAEL RICHARDS, ACTOR: I got my new plates. But they mixed them up. Somebody got mine, and I got their vanity plates.

JASON ALEXANDER, ACTOR: What do they say? RICHARDS: Assman.


RICHARDS: Assman, Jerry. I'm Cosmo Kramer, the ass man.

Yes. Dr. Cosmo Kramer. Proctology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Have a good day.


COOPER: I don't think that license plate would have ever made it past the Florida committee. And I'm guessing neither would Tobias's accidentally dirty vanity plate from the new season of "Arrested Development."


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

DAVID CROSS, ACTOR: Well -- whoa. Whoa, 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 a new 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."

OK, that's it for us. Thanks for watching. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.