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Millions Locked Down In China; COVID-19 Crushing Eastern Europe; Global Dark Web Trafficking Bust; Severe Weather in Italy; Dark Web Drug Bust; Movie Set Tragedy in "Rust"; Interview with Former Chief of U.S. Justice Department Organized Crime Section James Trusty. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired October 27, 2021 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers joining us from all around the world. You are watching CNN NEWSROOM and I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead, millions lockdown to prevent coronavirus outbreaks in China. And COVID infections hit record levels in Eastern Europe. Opioids guns and millions in cash, 150 arrested in a global Dark Web trafficking bust. Plus, flash flooding in parts of southern Italy turning roads into rivers.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center. This is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemarie Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us. And we begin here in the U.S. where parents are another step closer to protecting their children from the coronavirus. Vaccine advisors to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are recommending the Pfizer vaccine for children ages five to 11. They say the benefits of vaccinating younger children appear to outweigh the risks.


DR. PAUL OFFIT, MEMBER, FDA VACCINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE: When we make these kinds of decisions, it's all based on one thing., Would we give this vaccine to our own children? I think no one would have said yes if they weren't willing to give it to their own children.


CHURCH: About 28 million children would be eligible for the shot once the FDA and the CDC sign off. Meantime, China is clamping down to stop a growing COVID outbreak just 100 days before the Winter Olympic games begin. Cases have been reported in nearly a third of China's provinces and regions including Beijing. The Olympic host city. In the Northwest a city of more than four million people is now under strict lockdown after six new cases were reported on Tuesday.

CNN's Beijing Bureau Chief Steven Jiang joins me now. So Steven, good to see you just 100 days to go. And now news of rising COVID cases, four million people locked down. What is the latest on all this?

STEVEN JIANG, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF: That's right, Rosemary. You know, the return of the some of the harshest measures we had previously only seen in the peak of the pandemic last year, very much related to the upcoming Winter Games. The authorities here just don't want to take any chances in the lead up to these games. They also don't want to see a repeat of what happened in Tokyo, of course, which was a surge of COVID infections during the Summer Games.

That's why you are seeing these very strict measures being adopted across the country. But also they have just announced very strict protocols concerning participants to the game. So if you are coming here for the games, if you are fully vaccinated, you will be sent straight from the airport to this bubble they are creating in and around Beijing encompassing not only our competition venues, but also a dozens of hotels, media centers, as well as Olympic villages.

So basically, once you are in, you're going to be sealed off from the rest of the city, as well as the rest of the country. And you have to undergo daily COVID tests and you can go to other zones in the bubble only in transportation provided by the organizers. And once the games are over, you are again being sent straight to the airport to be flown out. And not surprisingly, they're not letting in any international spectators and domestic audiences in the stand.

Will be -- the numbers will be strictly limited and the health status strictly vetted and they will be kept separate from the people in the bubble as well. But of course, Rosemary, these games are shaping up to be the most controversial in recent time as we count down to the opening ceremony not just because of the COVID policy, but because of geopolitical tensions and pressures with China.

Its human rights record and its policies and a whole range of issues again, under growing international scrutiny, attracting some protests and even cause for boycotting. But for the Beijing leadership of course they are trying to push past all those controversies and criticisms really. There's little doubt Xi Jinping and his government will be able to put out a spectacular show without a pageantry and performance as they try to showcase their success in not only continue this virus but also as an emerging superpower in the world.

This time, of course, Rosemary with all the strict policies on COVID helping them keep the protesters away and all the reporters in check. Rosemary?

CHURCH: All right. Steven Jiang, many thanks for joining us live from Beijing keeping an eye on all of this. Appreciate it.

Well, Eastern Europe is facing a deadly pandemic winter. Cases are skyrocketing across the region. And on Tuesday, both Russia and Ukraine reported record high daily death tolls. The surge is now threatening to overwhelm healthcare systems that are already stretched too thin.


CHURCH: And yet doctors say many people won't do the one thing that could keep them out of the hospital.


CHURCH (voice-over): In Russia, some hospitals are beginning to buckle. Doctors working overtime to treat patients that could have potentially prevented their infections.

ROMAN MIRONOV, DEPUTY CHIEF PHYSICIAN, VOLZHSKIY HOSPITAL, NUMBER 1 (through translator): At the moment, the hospital is completely full. It has 540 beds and 540 patients. Most of the patients 98 to 99 percent are not vaccinated.

CHURCH: At this hospital in South Russia, medical staff say new COVID infections seem to be more severe, with more complications than before. As a fourth wave of coronavirus sweeps Russia, more than 1000 people are dying each day from COVID-19. The highest numbers since the start of the pandemic. Russia's recent COVID surge follows a trend across Eastern Europe, where several countries are breaking records for new cases.

And coronavirus deaths are among the highest in the world. As governments struggle to contain the outbreaks part of their battle, it seems as against skepticism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If I am not forced I will not get vaccinated.

CHURCH: Ukrainian authorities are urging weary citizens to get the jab, mandating vaccines for some government employees and restricting access for the unvaccinated. In Latvia, police are seen patrolling the streets to enforce a nationwide lockdown that began last week. Checking documents and permits of those outside their homes. In Romania, Monday marked the start of reintroduced night curfews and mandatory health passes for most venues.

It comes as hospitals there also struggled with an influx of patients, In Romania, Latvia and Russia, vaccination rates have far lower than the European Union average. Also Ukraine were just over 15 percent of the population has been fully inoculated. Citizens or formerly Soviet Bloc countries might be particularly suspicious of getting the jab. Some analysts say after decades of communist rule that eroded areas of public trust.

Now as the pandemic surges through the region, restoring faith in authority may be as difficult as containing the virus itself.


CHURCH: And we are joined now by Keith Neal. He is a professor emeritus of the epidemiology of infectious diseases at the University of Nottingham. Thank you, Doctor, for all that you do.

KEITH NEAL, PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF EPIDEMIOLOGY OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM: Good morning. CHURCH: So as we just heard, countries across Eastern Europe are struggling to cope with COVID-19, even as other parts of Europe and the world are seeing infections, hospitalizations and deaths full. How much of this is about low vaccination rates due to vaccine skepticism?

NEAL: I think it's not -- it must be largely due to the poor uptake of the vaccine. In Britain, we've got a very high testing rate, particularly of young children which makes our case rate looks substantially higher than other countries. When in reality, if everybody tested all the schoolchildren like we are in the U.K., our disease rate -- their disease rates would be higher. The rates in Latvia, despite that is higher in -- than it is in Britain.

And we can't be sure that disease will be very high in the other countries. We've disconnected the deaths from cases essentially by the vaccine, by protecting those people most vulnerable, and essentially get vaccinated becomes safer.

CHURCH: So Doctor, what do Eastern European countries need to do then to overcome this skepticism? Because it's one thing to say get vaccinated. We've seen that here in the United States. I mean, a third of the country is saying no, how do you convince those people in Eastern Europe that they need to get this jab?

NEAL: I think it's complex. And I doubt -- and there's different parts, different societies and different parts of society respond to different messages. I think that in Britain, we've had a number of high profile people as you have. Dr. Anthony Fauci get vaccinated, who -- and other respects of figures actually have it done themselves. And I think that's probably the best way for some people.

There's also lots of misinformation flying around and I struggled to understand why somebody fails to believe people -- experts who actually have seen all the data rather than their friends on Facebook who basically post something that someone else has posted as fact.

CHURCH: It is something we all struggle with, how that could possibly be. But Doctor, let's talk about children because the U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel has just voted to recommend that kids between five and 11 years of age should be eligible to get the Pfizer COVID vaccine saying the benefits outweigh the risks.


DEVITO: Do you agree with that decision? And what could this mean worldwide?

NEAL: I think this was -- the only way we'll ever achieve worldwide herd immunity is to vaccinate younger children. I haven't seen the safety data for -- in this age group, but I suspect that the rate of side effects will be incredibly low and probably much low the disease itself because although myocarditis has been shown to be caused by the vaccine, it's -- you get 10 times as much with natural disease.

I think there's a very strong case for very young -- for children of any age where we've got the data. If you live with somebody who's vulnerable, that I would include anybody over the age of 65 or those undergoing specific therapies such for cancer.

CHURCH: And Doctor, the CDC here in the U.S. now says that people with compromised immune systems may even need a fourth mRNA COVID-19 shot. And this comes just after the CDC author authorized a third dose for that same group. What is your view on a fourth dose? And could this signal an ongoing need for regular COVID shots do you think?

NEAL: There's two separate questions. I think an ongoing need is probably an easy one. That's relatively easy to answer, because we'll see how much COVID is around just before next winter, and could organize a top of the vaccine. We've known for many, many years, if you're immunocompromised, you do not make such a good immune response. And in Britain, because we can access healthcare records, anonymously, I mean, state -- restate anonymously, we can actually look at the risk factors for COVID post vaccination.

And we've come up with two major risk factors. One is down syndrome. And the other is people who've had chemotherapy in the last year. And therefore it's very logical to given another dose of the Pfizer vaccine which is what we're using in Britain or whatever else is used in the United States and other countries to top it up because it is certainly safe, and it will certainly should help their immune systems cope within it if they catch COVID.

SCHLAPP: Some great messages there. Dr. Keith Neal, thank you so much again for what you do and for joining us. Appreciate it.

NEAL: Thank you.

CHURCH: Brazilian lawmakers have approved a damning report that recommends criminal charges against President Jair Bolsonaro for his pandemic response. They allege his government intentionally allowed COVID to spread like wildfire in a failed bid to achieve herd immunity. That decision came the same day Brazil reported more than 400 new COVID deaths. In all, the virus has killed more than 606,000 Brazilians, the second highest death toll in the world.

CNN Shasta Darlington has our report.

SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A Brazilian Senate Committee has voted to recommend President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with nine crimes including crimes against humanity. Alleging it was his reckless mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Brazilians. The report was produced after six months of inquiry that included testimonies and allegations of corruption.

The final document also accuses the president of misusing public funds, charlatanism and provoking an epidemic resulting in death. More than 600,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil, the second highest death toll in the world. After the report was made public last week, Bolsonaro said he wasn't guilty of any crimes and told a crowd of supporters that he did the right thing from the first moment.

Before approving the final report, the Senate committee made some changes to the document, increasing the number of people accused to 78 and that includes some governors and mayors and three of Bolsonaro's sons. The committee also added a recommendation for Bolsonaro to be banned from social media for spreading misinformation about COVID 19. The committee approved the report by seven to four votes.

Now it's not clear, however, that the recommendation will actually lead to any criminal charges. The Senate commission will now send the documents to the attorney general who's considered an ally of Bolsonaro. Nonetheless, the inquiry has taken a toll on Bolsonaro. Live television coverage of the proceedings was watched closely by Brazilians and the investigation contributed to a sharp drop in his approval rating.

Making his bid for reelection next year look increasingly difficult. Shasta, Darlington CNN, Sao Paulo.

CHURCH: Well, more COVID vaccines are on the way for Africa. Moderna says it will send as many as one 110 million doses of its vaccine to the African Union The company says around 15 million doses will be ready to go by the end of the year.


CHURCH: Meanwhile, pharmaceutical company, BioNTech which is partnering with Pfizer on their vaccine says it will build a vaccine production facility in Africa next year. The announcements come as many African countries have struggled to secure COVID vaccine doses, and most still have not fully vaccinated even 10 percent of their population. And just in to CNN, the premier of Australia's state of Victoria, which hosts the Australian Open Tennis Tournament, has reiterated the players who were not vaccinated against COVID will not be allowed to attend the event this January.

That's in line with the country's strict border rules, which his comments come -- but his comments come after Prime Minister Scott Morrison said unvaccinated players would be allowed in as long as they quarantine for two weeks and apply for an exemption. But Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews says his state will not provide such an exemption.

Well, for a second straight day, thousands of people flooded Sudan streets in protest of the military takeover. We will have the latest developments coming up next.


CHURCH: Well, a new wave of protests and arrests in Sudan as the country's top general defends the unfolding military takeover. Thousands of protesters returned to the streets on Tuesday denouncing the coup, even as troops push forward with more arrests. Sources say key opposition leaders and the brother of the Foreign Minister were detained. Sources also say military personnel escorted Sudan's Prime Minister and his wife back to their home after the couple were detained Monday.

It's still not clear if they are able to move about freely. CNN's Nima Elbagir is tracking the latest developments. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sudan's military chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, leader of the unfolding coup d'etat on Tuesday came out in defense of the army's actions. The detention of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok and other government officials he said were to protect the country from Civil War.

GEN. ABDEL FATTAH AL-BURHAN, SUDANESE MILITARY CHIEF (through translator): Realistically, we looked and met together and found that this situation is causing a split. Some have started talking on racism which also suggested that the country was being led into a civil war, which will destroy the country's unity.

ELBAGIR: Thousands of protesters again took to the streets. Burning tires and barricading roads. Demonstrating against what they see as a betrayal of the 2019 prodemocracy uprisings that toppled former head of state Omar al-Bashir.


ELBAGIR: General Burhan help facilitate the takedown. Monday's violence saw at least eight civilians killed and more than 140 injured as they marched on the Army's General Command. The Sudanese Central Doctors Committee aligned with the now dissolved sovereign Council blamed the military for the shootings. CNN could not independently verify these claims. Speaking for the first time since the coup, Sudan's Foreign Minister described to CNN, the upheaval in the streets.

MARIAM AL-SADIQ, SUDANESE FOREIGN MINISTER (via telephone): I see columns of smoke all around the place where I'm staying. And I know because my children and my -- the children of my relatives and my neighbors are on the streets. I know they are outside and reporting that they are being shot at by tear gas and all that.

ELBAGIR: Burhan with allies in Egypt, the Gulf states and once the defense attache in China remained defiant in the face of domestic and international criticism. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres has condemned the military takeover.

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.S. SECRETARY GENERAL: I urge of course, all stakeholders to exercise maximum restraints but the Prime Minister and other officials that were unlawfully detained must be released.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States --

ELBAGIR: Meanwhile, the United States said they were withholding $700 million in aid. Crucial lifeblood for a nation on the brink of economic collapse. Funds, the state department said we're intended to support the country's Democratic transition. Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.

CHURCH: Iraqi officials are blaming ISIS for a deadly attack on a village east of Baghdad. At least 11 people were killed and six more were wounded by gunman on Tuesday. Iraq's Joint Operations Command says the attack targeted defenseless civilians. Iran's President called it a cowardly terrorist attack that was aimed at destabilizing the country.

The Pentagon is raising the alarm about the potential for ISIS-K attacks on the U.S. ISIS-K is responsible for the August suicide bombing that killed 13 U.S. Service Members and more than 150 Afghans during the evacuation at Kabul's airport. A U.S. defense official laid out the threat from ISIS-Kay and al Qaeda in a meeting with lawmakers on Tuesday.


COLIN KAHL, U.S. UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR POLICY: The intelligence community currently assesses that both ISIS-K and al Qaeda have the intent to conduct external operations, including against the United States but neither currently has the capability to do so. We could see ISIS-K generate that capability and somewhere between six or 12 months. I think the current assessments by the intelligence community as al Qaeda would take a year or two to reconstitute that capability.


CHURCH: The Pentagon says nearly 450 American citizens are still in Afghanistan. Colin Kahl told lawmakers the State Department is in contact with 196 Americans who want to leave the country, 243 are not ready to leave just yet.

Iran says it's been hit by a cyberattack shutting down the government system that runs fuel stations across the country. Witnesses told CNN card readers at petrol pumps fail to work. Instead they display part of the phone number at Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's officers. No one has claimed responsibility but the attack comes just a few weeks before the anniversary of the 2019 mass protests over fuel price increases.

Well, still to come. A sharp divide between rhetoric and reality. Dozens of countries not doing enough to keep the planet from a dangerous rise in temperature.

Plus, how flash flooding in one Italian city turn roads into rivers and submerged cars.



CHURCH: The U.N. is out with another alarming report on the climate crisis warning that promises to keep global temperatures from rising to dangerous levels are nowhere near what they need to be. It comes just days before the start of the COP26 Climate Summit in Glasgow, Scotland. The first meeting of world leaders happens Monday.

Dozens of countries have not officially updated their emissions pledges, as they agreed to do as part of the Paris Climate Accord. G20 countries account for 80 percent of the world's emissions. But the U.N. report says only six have promised further reductions. Six others Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Brazil, South Korea and Australia never met their original targets.


GUTERRES: So as the title of this year's report puts it The Heat Is On. And as the contents of the reports show, the leadership we need is off. And far off we know that humanity's future depends on keeping global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2030. And we also know that so far, parties to the Paris Agreement are utterly failing to keep these targets within reach.


CHURCH: U.S. President Joe Biden leaves Thursday to meet with G20 leaders in Rome before heading to COP26. And is hoping to have the details of his legislative climate plan in place when he arrives in Glasgow. Democrats in Congress trying to hammer out an agreement on a larger social safety net bill. And sources say the climate portion alone could total over $500 billion dollars. The President has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 50 percent by 2030.


JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is also important to note that we have made a significant amount of progress and we are almost there and that the President is on the verge. We are all on the verge of passing a bill that is the largest investment in addressing the climate crisis in history. And of course global leaders take note of that too.


CHURCH: Queen Elizabeth will not be greeting world leaders in person at COP26. Buckingham Palace says she will record a video message instead. Her Majesty met virtually on Tuesday with Swiss and Korean ambassadors. The Palace says she's following doctor's advice to rest nearly a week after she was admitted to hospital for preliminary investigations.

Well, right now some areas of southern Italy are under extreme threat of additional flooding. These dramatic images show cause submerged in water as flash floods and Gulf, the city of Catania in Sicily on Tuesday. A government official calls the situation very critical.

So let's bring in CNN Contributor Barbie Nadeau in Rome and meteorologist Pedram Javaheri here in Atlanta. Barbie, let's go to you first. What is the situation on the ground? What are you able to report to us about this flooding?

BARBIE NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is devastating. You know, they're doing a surveillance this morning trying to understand if people are in need of rescue, you know, these streets were turned into rivers as we saw in those dramatic images. Now this is a city that's quite used to this read of the volcano Mount Etna, overhead rains, ash on the city all the time. [02:30:02]

But they're not used to this amount of water. People don't know how to drive in it. People -- we could see, you know, not taking the right precautions, trying to get out of their cars in the middle as they were moving down the street, things like that. But the -- security officials say that they're, right now, looking, basically, from house to house on the ground floor to make that people didn't get trapped inside, that night to be rescued. Many of those businesses are destroyed, many of the houses -- most of the houses are on upper levels, but the businesses are the areas that have been so devastated by this incredibly rare flooding, Rosemary.

CHURCH: It is just unbelievable, those images. Many thanks to you by Barbie. Let's go to Pedram Javaheri now to bring us up to date on the forecast. What are you seeing there, Pedram? How long is this flooding likely to last in this particular part of the world?

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You know, unfortunately, Rosemary, the storm system has essentially put on the parking brakes across this region. So, very little movement is expected. We have seen a parade of storms in the last couple of days. And this current one in place here forecasted to meander just off the shores there of Sicily over the next two to three days.

We've got the humid air coming in from the east. We've got very gusty winds from the north. And the system is going to produce another round of heavy rainfall, and resembling what we would call a medicane. We talk about this every so often. It happens on average once or twice per year. But essentially, the term is an informal weather term here coming from -- taken a system that has some tropical characteristics into the Mediterranean, so you put the words of hurricane and Mediterranean together, that's where the name comes from.

But, again, typically, this sort of a pattern, the medicane occurs between September and January. And certainly, they are not warm cored as tropical systems would be, they're more cold core in nature but exhibit some tropical characteristics. And you take a look at just how much moisture this system has already produced, 400 to 500 millimeters in matter of just one to two days. This is why this is going to be a major, major issue across this region.

In fact, forecast models bring down an additional 100 to 200 millimeters over the next three days. And Catania, in particular, they average about 580 millimeters in an entire year, which is very similar to what you would see, for example, in London that averages about 650 millimeters per year. But some of these areas, again, could see a years' worth of rainfall in a course of the, say, three or four days.

And climatologically speaking, in Catania, a city here that sees a rainfall really pick up an intensity, typically, between October and January, and you kind of see we are in the peak season for wet weather. The storm system in very little plans of it moving out of here until at least Saturday, Rosemary. We think rainfalls is going to be a possibility and, if anything, a probability, come Tuesday and Friday, with as much as 100 millimeters in store across this region. Rosie.

CHURCH: Unbelievable. Pedram Javaheri, many thanks for the forecast. And Barbie Nadeau, for bringing us up to date. Appreciate you both.

Well, from Switzerland and the U.K., Italy to the U.S., authority's breakup a major dark net drug ring. I will ask an organized crime expert about the operation.

Plus, what may be the last photograph taken of Halyna Hutchins before her death on a New Mexico film set.



CHURCH: A district attorney in New Mexico is not ruling out criminal charges in the deadly shooting on the set of Alec Baldwin's film "Rust." The D.A. says investigators are trying to determine who loaded Baldwin's gun before it was discharged, killing crew member Halyna Hutchins.

Meantime, new court documents obtained by CNN show there was ammunition on the set. Some was found in boxes and a fanny pack. Some was just loose on a tray. There were also several spent casings along with three revolvers. It's unclear what type of ammunition was found or whether they were blanks, dummy rounds or live bullets.

European and U.S. authorities say they have busted a dark net opioid trafficking ring and made 150 arrests. Operation Dark Huntor netted more than $30 million in cash and virtual currencies, as well as dozens of weapons and some 230 kilograms of drugs, like fentanyl, meth, oxycodone and ecstasy. The sweep targeted vendors, buyers and sellers who peddled killer pills, which are counterfeits laced with deadly drugs.


LISA MONACO, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: In United States alone, this operation seized over 200,000 pills. 90 percent of which were found to contain counterfeit opioids or other narcotics. To put this in perspective, just 2 milligrams of fentanyl, a size so small it could fit on the tip of a pen, that is considered a deadly dose.


CHURCH: Europol and U.S. law enforcement agencies made the bulk of the arrests in Germany, Britain and the United States.

James Trusty is the former chief of the Department of Justice's Organized Crime and Gang Section. He joins me now from Maryland.

Good to have you with us.

JAMES TRUSTY, FORMER CHIEF OF U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ORGANIZED CRIME SECTION: Good evening. CHURCH: So, as reported, 150 people have been arrested, accused of

participating in international dark net opioid trafficking. And in that same law enforcement operation, weapons, drugs and more than $31 million of cash and virtual currencies were also seized. That is a significant haul and operation. So, how difficult would it have been to nab these internet drug traffickers?

TRUSTY: Well, it's very difficult. I mean, this is really is kind of the wave of the future. You know, darknet-based criminal activity. The darknet is designed for anonymous behavior and anonymous communications. And it's a tough nut to crack. You know, it looks like in this case, you've got multiple countries and multiple districts within the U.S. attorney's offices in the United States that came together and pulled off a pretty big takedown.

CHURCH: You mentioned those multiple countries. I mean, how do you coordinate an operation like this and keep it quiet so that you can eventually make arrests and seizures of this magnitude?

TRUSTY: It's very difficult. I mean, I certainly have experience with that at DOJ. And it's not really just about kind of territorial behavior by different prosecutors, it's really a practical issue. You know, every criminal justice system is on a different timeline with different procedural restraints and timings. And so, that makes it really challenging to coordinate the timing the takedowns, but also the points beyond.

You know, when it comes to dealing with discovery issues, with sharing information that might be exculpatory where the defendant is halfway around the world. So, the challenge is big for the takedown but it's a real ongoing difficult dance to master all of the evidence across all these different countries and present independent cases wherever you are.

CHURCH: And you mentioned that this was the way of the future. So, how much harder is it to deal with internet crime and how much more challenging is it compared to what happens on the streets?

TRUSTY: I mean, I think the fundamental part is that, you know, there is a big difference between identifying a human being committing a crime and recognizing a screen name. And that's what's this, you know, dark network relies on, is essentially screen names and validating each other as legitimate customers, but not face-to-face communications or face-to-face contact.

So, one of the big challenges for law enforcement across the world in this case is putting an identity to the screen name. And in the U.S. case is looking at the indictment. A good number of them involve either controlled deliveries of drug packages, where they'd would show up at that screen name's house and be able to identify him by him taking possession of the drugs or by using undercovers, you know, tipping somebody into the network and allowing for undercover operations where you can have those face-to-face communications where there's concessions that I, Joe Defendant, am also screen name X.

[02:40:00] That's a big challenge. It sounds easy but it's actually pretty fundamentally difficult, when you are crossing country lines and dealing with cybercrime.

CHURCH: But in a way though, with internet crimes, it's a little easier to go undercover in those operations, for a while at least, where a face isn't necessarily required?

TRUSTY: Yes, but it's a real cat and mouse. You know, when you're dealing with these dark web platforms, they don't just let strangers show up and start talking to them about buying fentanyl or something else. They tend to have a hierarchy, an organization that require some validation for that new person that shows up in the website.

So, I don't want to make it sound like it is too easy to crack cyber- based crime, because they are pretty smart kids that are on the other end of the line.

CHURCH: So, how big a role do you think the pandemic has played in setting up the ideal circumstances for internet crime on a global and local scale?

TRUSTY: I don't know. Pandemic might have accelerated it a little bit. But I think the whole trend of customers, you know, for any supply and demand tends to be online. I mean, online shopping, online gaming, online communications are certainly taking the forefront. And so, this becomes a pretty easy system for relatively young defendants that are cyber savvy, that know where they want to go to get things, like fentanyl or LSD or whatever it may be.

CHURCH: And so, what controls and procedures need to be put in place to make it, perhaps, easier for law enforcement to catch these internet criminals or is that not possible, do you think?

TRUSTY: You know, I think that's going to be a real challenge. I mean, you are always balancing privacy interests. But here you have international players that are using anonymized networks. It's very difficult. You have to deal with -- like what they did in this case, you have to get cooperation from the home countries in the hope that that kind of tips the scales, where you can infiltrate and identify the people that are taking the administrative roles within these dark websites.

CHURCH: James Trusty, thank you so much for talking with us. We appreciate it.

TRUSTY: Sure. My pleasure.

CHURCH: Actor and playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda can add another honor to his long list of accolades, saving a piece of American theater history. Miranda joined New York mayor, Bill de Blasio, in celebrating the reopening of the Drama Bookshop, a New York Theater Staple more than 100 years old. Miranda is one of the store's new owners and was honored with a proclamation for efforts to restore the shop and bring the arts back to New York. He and shop go back.


LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, ACTOR, PLAYWRIGHT AND MUSICIAN: When he could not afford Broadway tickets, I would sit on the floor of the Drama Book Shop and read the librettos and listen to the scores. I welcome you to utilize the space as a resource to gather and to dream.


CHURCH: The "Hamilton" playwright added that after his show reopened on Broadway during the pandemic, he will never take a theater for granted ever again.

And thanks so much for joining us. I'm Rosemary Church. World Sport is coming up next. You are watching CNN. I'll be back at the top of the hour. Stay with us.