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Convicts, Mercenaries Fight For Russia In Bakhmut; Russia Using Iranian Drones On Battlefield In Ukraine; Residents Shelter In Place As Storm Slams Turks And Caicos; Puerto Rico Needs Basic Supplies In Storm Aftermath; U.N. Chief: Fossil Fuel Companies Feasting As Planet Burns; Iranians Protest Death Of Woman In Morality Police Custody. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired September 21, 2022 - 00:00   ET




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm John Vause.

Coming up this hour on CNN NEWSROOM. World leaders gathering in crisis at the U.N. General Assembly, with Putin's war threatening the fundamental principles of the United Nations.


Big tax on big profits, the U.N.'s plan to tax the fossil fuel industries, massive windfall profits to help poor nations already struggling with the impact of global warming.

And outrage in Iran, protests over the death of a young woman detained by the morality police now spreading across the country.

ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Center, this is CNN NEWSROOM with John Vause.

VAUSE: For the first time in three years, world leaders are gathering in person at the U.N.'s Annual General Assembly. Only this year they're meeting is Russia's invasion of Ukraine threatens the fundamentals on which the U.N. was founded.

After trampling the U.N. Charter with his invasion of Ukraine, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be a no show for the 77th session of the General Assembly, which began on Tuesday.

Nearly every country around the world is feeling the impact from his war of choice from shortages of grain, rising food and fuel prices, record high inflation, soaring energy costs or can be linked back to Putin.

And then there's the existential threat of climate change. With the U.N. Secretary General calling for urgent action. Antonio Guterres wants wealthy nations to tax the record windfall profits of energy companies to help poor nations already struggling from the impact of the climate crisis and global inflation. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANTONIO GUTERRES, U.N. SECURITY-GENERAL: Let's have no illusions. We are in rough seas. A winter of global discontent is on the horizon. A cost of living crisis is raging, thrust is crumbling, inequalities are exploding and our planet is burning.


VAUSE: And into that mix, the Russian missile strike has hit residential buildings in Ukraine's second biggest city Kharkiv.

The screen is blank because the attack came in the dead of night. Kharkiv mayor says crews are working to rescue people trapped on one building, but authorities are still gathering information on casualties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin may or may not make a major announcement during a national address for the next hour or so. If all this plans announced Tuesday for referenda in four Ukrainian areas under Russian control, which could end with separatists in Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson voting to become Russian territory.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says those regions deserve to be their masters of their own destiny. But Western countries and Ukraine's leaders are condemning this move.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can we get a reaction to the referendums?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Sorry. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will not change anything.

The Russians can do whatever they want. They will not change anything.


VAUSE: With troop morale low and territorial gains shrinking, Russia is sending mercenaries and convicts to the battlefield in parts of Ukraine.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports from the frontlines in the eastern city of Bakhmut.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): The mood here is black and old. From a time passed, Ukraine did not feel it was winning, taking heavy losses, but struggling to hold on.

But the Russian enemy is something new. This is the very front line with Russian positions literally 100 meters away from where I'm standing. The Kremlin really wants the city of Bakhmut, so here, on its edges, it sent ruthless mercenaries from the Wagner group to fight. The shelling, endless.

We are taken off to their vantage point from where they see the Wagner fighters rushing them, leaving the Ukrainians to open fire.

It is just over there. They say that the Russian Wagner mercenaries appeared to try to run at them, exposing Ukrainian positions, so the Russian artillery can hit where they are.

The field but between them, charred, pockmarked. They are almost eyeball to eyeball. The next attack is imminent.

We can see a mortar unit, the drone operator says. They are preparing to fire at us.

Down in the shelter, the commander says, they've captured Russian convicts who were recruited to fight.

It was get shot or surrender for the convict, he says. Wagner act professionally, not like usual infantry units.

Shells continue to land all around them.

Bakhmut is a mess. Russia edging towards it, but not inside. Prepared for street to street fighting and meanwhile torn to pieces. The losses are heavy and exposed positions around the city, particularly here. Russia's invasion, tearing through the green treasured land that claims to covet.


Why do they want Bakhmut?

They retreated elsewhere and they need a victory, something significant, he says, so they throw forces here. Of course, we have casualties. Not today in our unit, but you can't avoid dead or wounded. I lost my close friend five days after we came here.

There are still many people here, buying a lot of Natalia's potatoes.

We sold half a ton today, she says. Who knows where the shooting is coming from or going. Don't to be scared, she said.

Twenty-four hours later, a Ukrainian artillery is hitting positions on the city's edge, amid reports Russia has gotten closer. Much fresh smoke, but it's always hard to know what Moscow thought it was hitting.

Walking home with a squeaky wheel and food is Maria, back to her son.

MARIA, BAKHMUT RESIDENT (through translator): With God you have no fear. And on your own land you cannot feel fear either.

WALSH: Silence and terror in turn enveloping the city. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Bakhmut, Ukraine.


VAUSE: Which is might be Russia's most effective weapon in this war is made in Iran. The first shipment of kamikaze attack drones arrived last month and are now in service apparently with devastating effect.

Farzin Nadimi is a military historian, expert on Iranian made weapons as well as an Associate Fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Welcome to the program.


VAUSE: OK, so neither Russia or Ukraine have confirmed any of this but degree (PH) of the drones from Ukraine seems to confirm that Iran has said both Shahed and Mohajer drones launched from a flatbed truck, both have a range of 2,000 kilometers, they can stay in the air for 24 plus hours.

And they seem to operate in pairs and are very effective so far. So much that the Ukrainian Colonel fears that without countermeasures, the Ukraine's artillery could be wiped out.

So, what makes these drones such a problem and so effective?

NADIMI: These suicide drones have been very effective. And they were used in Iranian drills for some time. And it seems that they are being used as a complement to their artillery in eastern Ukraine.

We expected that if they were in use -- they're going to be in use in Ukraine. They would be used for more strategic objectives to attack a larger staging areas or ammunition dumps or command and control structure because it has -- as you mentioned, it has a maximum range of over 2,000 kilometers.

So, seeing them being used in a more tactical environment against APCs and artillery, it's a kind of surprising. Probably the Russians are still testing (INAUDIBLE) or they -- as mentioned in the article, they have been deficiencies in terms of fire support in certain areas of the battlefield.

VAUSE: When Russian supplied weapons failed badly during the U.S. led invasion of Iraq, Moscow blaming the poorly trained and incompetent Iraqi troops. This time it's their own troops and the results seems to be about the same. Despite that, here's the Russian President Vladimir Putin.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT: I will immediately note that the Russian weapons used during the operation show high efficiency. First of all, this concerns aviation, high precision long range missiles, aviation weapons, rocket and artillery weapons, armored weapons and others. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: If Russian weapons have been so awesome and so effective, why did the Kremlin turn to Iran for these drones?

NADIMI: Well, the Russian drone industry has been lagging behind and for many years, they were not -- they were not investing enough in their drone industry and they just have started to create a modern drones industry near Moscow. (INAUDIBLE) has been starting to produce modern drones.

But we don't believe that they will be produced enough numbers to reach the Ukrainian fronts and to reach enough numbers to be -- to make a difference.


VAUSE: When Putin was making that statement, was he essentially talking to countries which are major buyers of Russian weapons? Because if you look at the actual results on the battlefield, the Russian weapons haven't fared too well.

NADIMI: No, no, they haven't fare too well. In terms of both land based weapons and also drones, but where their missiles have done better, their cruise missiles have done very well.

But as I mentioned, they don't have it in their inventory -- enough number of their inventory to continue to use them at this early rate.

VAUSE: Overall, though, the Ukrainian counter-offensive has been so effective. There is this growing concern over what Vladimir Putin might do next in terms of escalation. Here is the Assistant Secretary of State for the United States, here she is.


WENDY SHERMAN, U.S. DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: He is on the ropes. It of course increases our concern that he will use kinds of weapons of war that he should not. He's already weaponized food. He's already weaponized energy. People all over the world are suffering from Putin's war.

And so, I think we should be concerned. But hopefully, he understands what the president just conveyed. Don't. Don't. Don't.


VAUSE: Just very quickly here, what do you see as Putin's next move?

NADIMI: Well, I think that's the million dollar question. I think that he will try to dog in Donbas, he will try to keep his right flank secure because of losing this, eight and a half thousand square kilometer, has exposed it's right flank. So they will have they to -- they need to secure the right flank in order to be able to maintain Donbas and especially Donetsk and also Luhansk. It's very, very, very difficult situation. Because of their limited resources, limited manpower, they have to hold on both to the east and also south.

So, if the Ukrainians are able to put pressure on Russia simultaneously on both east and southern sectors, I think the Russians will get closer to collapse.

VAUSE: Farzin Nadimi, thank you so much, sir, for being with us, we appreciate it.

The islands of the Turks and Caicos continue to be battered by Hurricane Fiona even as the storm moves further into the Atlantic.

On Tuesday, hurricanes' strong, powerful winds and heavy downpour put a shelter in place order. So far, no deaths or injuries have been reported.

Elsewhere, though, across the Caribbean, the hurricane is blamed for five deaths. Puerto Rico was hit on Sunday, only now has managed to restore power to 300,000 customers. That means more than a million people still without electricity.

Let's go to CNN's Meteorologist Pedram Javaheri right now for the very latest on the storm. Yet it's got quite the sting in the tail this one.

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN METEOROLOGIST (on camera): It does, you know, John, the storm system is only going to get stronger in the coming hours even get larger as far as the sense of scale for this feature.

So, certainly the impacts going to be wide reaching even away from the center. And notice some of the scenes coming out of the Grand Turk area in Turks and Caicos, showing you how serious of a storm this was across this region, essentially getting up to a major hurricane after being a Category 1 when it impacted portions of Puerto Rico.

But here it is, 205 kilometer per hour winds that is sustained winds right now near the eye wall. And notice the southern periphery of it still impacting the Turks and Caicos, the storm very slowly moving away from this region at around 13 kilometers per hour.

But the concern is it will only strengthen in the coming 12 or so hours. And in fact, look at the eye wall here, spans 64 kilometers across. That's about the entirety of the northern tier of Puerto Rico all the way to the southern tier of Puerto Rico, the length of Puerto Rico, north to south is about the same width of the eye wall of the storm system.

Kind of giving you a sense of how large of a storm this is. And so, where is it headed? Well, all eyes across Bermuda here on alert, here already with tropical storm watches in advance of it.

And you'll notice, about 1,200 kilometers south of areas of Bermuda but the forecast guidance takes this up to a Category 4 within the next 12 or so hours, keeps it at that threshold as water temperatures here pushing up close to 30 degrees Celsius.

And then, notice, the closest push does bring it in within about 150 maybe 200 miles or so of Bermuda sometime Thursday night into Friday morning. But again, because of how large of a storm this is, the impacts could be pretty significant.

Still, feeling tropical storm force winds in Bermuda and then follow where it ends up across portions of Nova Scotia here, possibly still with hurricane force winds as it gets there this weekend.

And John, temperatures cold enough here that the moisture with the storm could actually bring snow showers for the first time all season into parts of Canada. A lot going on here in the world of weather with the storm system and what it has to offer.

VAUSE: That's nuts, that's crazy. OK, thanks Pedram, appreciate it.

Well, hundreds of disaster response workers from FEMA heading to Puerto Rico after a meeting between the islands governor and the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They're expected to arrive within days.


More now from CNN's Leyla Santiago reporting in from the island.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hurricane Fiona wiping out power to the majority of the roughly 3.1 million residents here; 60 percent of them without water and about 1,200 people housed in shelters.

Five years ago today, Puerto Rico was ravaged by Hurricane Maria. Now, it barely recovered from that catastrophic storm. The island and its people are suffering again.

Officials say, at least two have died on the island as a result of the storm. One man, swept away by a flooded river behind his home. Another man died while trying to fill his generator with gasoline, setting it on fire.

We traveled with the National Guard, as they tried to clear roads in the mountainous region of Cayey. Their goal? Excess and to start moving in much-needed supplies to these isolated areas.

In the island's interior like Cayey, a very mountainous municipality, this is part of the problem, the mudslides that block the road and block access to that power substation.

Roberto Santiago was gathering drinking water off the mountain side.

So he came to the mountain side to get water because there's no water at his house.

CARLOS VARGAS, PR PRESIDENT, CAYEY, PUERTO RICO: Power. We know that we're going to face that and we can deal with that, but the biggest concern is water -- can't live without water.

SANTIAGO: Carlos Vargas lived just beyond a big mudslide that blocked access to the road. The National Guard had to evacuate about 35 elderly patients from a facility here before the mudslide demolished the building.

LT. COL. JOSUE FLORES MORALES, PUERTO RICO NATIONAL GUARD: We carry the elderly, their chairs and their beds, and we just ran over and carried them over the landslide so we could get him out before the house collapsed.

SANTIAGO: The recovery ahead not without its own set of challenges.

GOV. PEDRO PIERLUISI (D), PUERTO RICO: The hurricane and now the storm, the related storm has impacted the whole island. So, we're still in the middle of this event. We're basically responding at this point. The next step will be recovery. We're not there yet.

SANTIAGO (on camera): And in Cayey, the gas stations are busy lines are forming, people coming to get gas, diesel to power those generators they need to be able to turn the lights on at home since there is no power.

But the governor says he expects that by tomorrow night, a good chunk of the island will have power restored. One big exception though, the southern part of the island, one of the hardest hit areas in Puerto Rico right now.

Leyla Santiago, CNN, Cayey, Puerto Rico.


VAUSE: Katharine Hayhoe is chief scientist at The Nature Conservancy and an expert on Atmospheric Science and Climate Change. Thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: And that's your book there. It's the Saving Us: A Climate Scientist's Case for Hope and Healing in a Divided World. So glad we got that in.

OK, so in the opening remarks, the U.N. General Assembly, the Secretary General talked about the threat we're all facing for climate change. He placed the blame on big oil and other carbon based energy producers. Here he is.


GUTERRES: The fossil fuel industry is feasting on hundreds of billions of dollars in subsidies and windfall profits, while households budgets shrink, and our planet burns, excellences. Let's tell it like it is. Our world is addicted to fossil fuels. And it's time for an intervention. We need to hold fossil fuel companies and their enablers to account.


VAUSE: Last month, Guterres tweeted out that energy companies in the first quarter of the year made $100 billion in profit. It's a staggering number. What are the chances of a global fuel tax and if not attacks, the order just ending subsidies for fossil fuels, which in 2020, globally, costs $5.9 trillion. That's an even bigger number. Look at that.

HAYHOE: People don't realize how subsidized our fossil fuels are. And I'm a climate scientist, not an economist, but I know that nearly every economist around the world including across the political spectrum agrees that the easiest and cheapest way to cut our emissions is to put a price on carbon.

The Secretary General also highlighted how incredibly unfair climate change is, according to one Oxfam analysis, the 50 percent poorest people in the world are responsible for only seven percent of our heat trapping gas emissions, yet they are bearing the brunt of the impacts.

VAUSE: Also, this tax on windfall profits from big energy companies, where she helped finance the assistance for these poor countries, which have been hardest -- hit hardest, at least responsible.

There is one country making a move in that direction, Denmark, the first wealthy nation to promise compensation, the damages caused by carbon emissions and climate change.

In a statement, the Danish Development Minister was quoted as saying, it is grossly unfair that the world's poorest should suffer the most from the consequences of climate change, which they've contributed the least.


So, I guess can wealthy nations be relied upon to do this voluntarily? Or you know, help struggling nations or actually, they need to be forced to do this?

HAYHOE: I think you need a combination of the carrot and the stick plus a lot of peer pressure. How would you force a nation to do something other than by showing it is in their best interests to do so?

And one of the biggest concerns we have with climate change, again, is the way that it affects all of us, but it doesn't affect us all equally.

Where will people go when they have no food to eat, when they have no water to drink, when they have no land to farm and they have no homes to live in?

Climate change represents as the United Nations says one of the potentially greatest threats to refugee crises we have ever confronted with hundreds of millions of potential refugees, if it is not tackled now. For the sake of all of us, not the planet. But as humans and other living things to share this planet with us, we need to act now as much as possible, as soon as possible.

VAUSE: Ultimately, it is in everyone's self-interest to do this, that seems to be the message which isn't getting across.

Right now, though, with Europe, in the midst of an energy crisis, many countries have restarted carbon producing coal fired power plants. That's an issue that the President of Brazil addressed oddly enough while at the podium, here he is.


JAIR BOLSONARO, BRAZILIAN PRESIDENT: All of this impact drives us all away from the sustainable development goals. Countries that was presented themselves as leaders of the low carbon economy have now turned to dirty sources of energy. This is a serious setback for the environment.


VAUSE: Here's something else which is a big setback for the environment. Loggers, ranchers, miners, and others seeking profit are tearing apart the Amazon faster than ever, motivated by fears that Bolsonaro's reelection bid could fail, that the next president could crack down harder on such activity.

You know, so if deforestation in the Amazon continues at its current pace, is there a timeline when it goes from being a net carbon capture to carbon release?

HAYHOE: According to science, there is the possibility of that happening. And the tipping point depends on how much and how fast.

Now, most of the areas under threat there are what's called undesignated lands. So, they either belong still to the state or the federal government. And because there's such a complex land tenure situation in those areas, that's what makes them prone to that illegal land grabbing.

But look at the flip side, a key climate solution is allowing indigenous peoples to manage their land and conservation such as national parks.

In those places, either conservation or indigenous land management, 97 percent of the original Amazonian forest coverage has been retained. And that is why land management and land tenure is such an important issue. Who owns the land who has the right to make the decisions?

VAUSE: Straight quickly, the solutions are out there, we just have to put them in place.

HAYHOE: You're absolutely right. We know what those solutions look like. We know that through efficiency alone, the U.S. could cut its carbon emissions nearly in half. We know that clean energy is abundant and available even in some of

the poorest parts of the world. We know that agricultural revolutions, that nature positive solutions to take carbon out of the atmosphere and put it back in the soils and coastal wetlands and peatlands and forests and grasslands where we want it are available.

We know those solutions are at our fingertips. We just need the acceleration that smart policy would give us, a price on carbon and carbon fees and dividends.

VAUSE: Absolutely. Katherine, thank you. Sorry to interrupt your last little bit, but great to have you with us. Really appreciate it. Thank you.

HAYHOE: Thank you for having me.

VAUSE: Just ahead, mass protests turned deadly in Iran as thousands take to the streets angered by the death of a young woman detained by the morality police.



VAUSE: Welcome back, after days of rare public defiance, which has been spreading across around, security forces have shot dead at least five protesters according to a human rights monitor.

Those demonstrations come one week after the death of a young woman in the custody of the country's strict morality beliefs. Iran hasn't seen protests on this scale since 2019 when the government raise gas prices.

What's notable this time the number of women who are taking part, some chanting women, live, freedom, holding their headscarves.

More details now from CNN's Jomana Karadsheh.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): There is so much anger on the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities.

Crackdown by authorities has not stopped these defiant Iranians. According to one human rights group several protesters have been killed and injured in these country wide demonstrations sparked by the death of a young woman while in the custody of the country's morality police.

Mahsa Amini a Kurdish Iranian was detained last Tuesday by the force tasked with enforcing the country's strict Islamic dress code, including the headscarf. She was taken away to so called Re-education Center. It was the last time her family says they saw her awake later that day.

The authorities say she fell into a coma. Amini died on Friday. Her family and rights activists blame her death on the brutality of the notorious police force. Authorities have called her death an unfortunate incident.

On Friday they released this edited CCTV video they claimed shows Amini at the so called reeducation center. State TV says she appeared unwell while speaking to a center expert before she collapsed and was rushed to hospital.

Police say she had a heart attack. Her family says she was a healthy 22 years old with no pre-existing heart conditions. The Ukrainian president ordered an investigation into her death on Friday. An official say they've carried out an autopsy and are reviewing it.

The streets have responded with more protests, many don't believe the government would deliver a credible investigation. And despite the history of ruthlessness and dealing with demonstrations, protests appear to spread this week.

Amini's death has reignited the debate over the role and the very existence of the morality police, which has been repeatedly accused of using violence in the past.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If they are supposed to be present, there is no need for so much violence and creating fear among the people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am strongly against this because we are talking about a cultural issue. It's not possible to apply a cultural issue by force.

KARADSHEH (voice over): As the Iranian President appears at the UN General Assembly, New York this week; women are back out on the streets saying

enough is enough. Some brave enough to remove their headscarves as they chant Death to the Dictator.

Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Istanbul.


VAUSE: Still to come here on CNN, the evolution of human smuggling from small operations to multinational criminal organizations, shipping desperate immigrants across the U.S. border.


VAUSE: Day two of the U.N. General Assembly begins in a few hours, and we're expecting the issues of Russia's war in Ukraine, as well as the stalled Iran nuclear deal to be the major topic as world leaders take to the podium.


Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also set to speak virtually to the assembly. And U.S. President Joe Biden will meet with the U.N. secretary-general, as well as British Prime Minister Liz Truss. More details now from CNN's senior U.N. correspondent, Richard Roth.


RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: It's rare for a U.S. president to adjust his speaking slot at the U.N. General Assembly high-level debate, but that's what Joe Biden has done.

Instead of going in the traditional U.S. slot, second behind Brazil, which was yesterday, he will go later today. In fact, he will be going several speakers after the president of Iran.

U.S. officials say President Biden will condemn Russia strongly for its invasion of Ukraine and also comment on Security Council reform. Many road leaders criticized Russia during their speeches on Tuesday. The French president denounced Russia for its invasion and condemned those who are trying to remain neutral on the affair.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Those who are keeping silent today actually are, in a way, complicit with the cause of a new imperialism, a new order that is trampling over the current order, and there's no peace possible here.

ROTH The French president denounced as fake the planned referendums announced in Eastern Ukraine yesterday.

As for Iran, the French president also met with Iranian president, Raisi, yesterday. The two men discussing the stalled nuclear deal that died after President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement.

The Iranians want guarantees. The Western countries feel they've gone far enough.

The French president said the ball is in Iran's court.

Richard Roth, CNN, United Nations.


VAUSE: A civil rights group has filed a class-action lawsuit against Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the state of Florida, as well as others, accusing them of defrauding vulnerable migrants to advance a political motive.

DeSantis arranged for two planes to fly nearly 50 migrants, mostly from Venezuela, from Texas to Massachusetts last week. Other Republican governors have sent migrants to more liberal areas in the North, protesting what they described as a failure by the federal government to secure the U.S. Southern border.

The DeSantis office responded to the lawsuit on Tuesday, saying the migrants were moved on a voluntary basis.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports the number of encounters with migrants on the U.S.-Mexico border has topped 2 million this year. The agency says migration from countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba are stretching the numbers.

Migrants often face treacherous conditions when crossing the border, like oppressive desert heat and dangerous waters. CNN's Rosa Flores shows us how dangerous it can be. And a warning: some of the images in her report are disturbing.



ROSA FLORES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is what human smuggling looks like.


FLORES (voice-over): Migrants gasping for air in this 2015 case, or a trailer --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can anybody stand up?

FLORES (voice-over): -- covered in wailing humans in this 2017 case. Ten people died, authorities say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know which one next. Just pick one, and I'll help you up.

FLORES (voice-over): A similar scene unfolded in June when 53 people died in San Antonio in a tractor trailer.



FLORES (voice-over): Craig Larrabee is the acting special agent in charge with homeland security investigations in San Antonio, the arm of DHS that investigates human smuggling, and says migrants have more than death to fear.

LARRABEE: The extortion, the assaults, physical assaults, sexual assaults, they're -- they're real.

FLORES (voice-over): He says human smuggling has changed in the last decade, from small family businesses that charged $2,000 per migrant to multinational criminal organizations that charge 10,000 and make billions of dollars a year.

LARRABEE: So maybe a vehicle had 50 bodies in it years and years ago. They'll put 150 bodies in that vehicle.

FLORES (voice-over): Larrabee debunks the myth that migrants are usually smuggled into the U.S. on tractor-trailers.

LARRABEE: They are smuggled across the country on foot. That's generally speaking. FLORES (voice-over): Once in the U.S., migrants are taken to so-called

stash houses.

AARON MORENO, HIDALGO COUNTY SHERIFF: I've seen over 70 people in a little apartment.

FLORES (voice-over): Hidalgo County Sheriff's Lieutenant Aaron Moreno shows us a stash house they dismantled last year. The windows of the small home, clues smugglers tried to hide 37 people inside.

MORENO: This is a tactic. You look for the aluminum foil and/or cardboard so nobody can see inside. So they can't see outside.

FLORES (voice-over): From those stash houses --


FLORES (voice-over): -- migrants are packed in travel trailers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're under arrest for human smuggling.

FLORES (voice-over): -- in the trunks of cars, tool boxes, vans and other vehicles that are sometimes locked shot like this one last week.


FLORES (voice-over): That had to be pried open by law enforcement.

The drivers sometimes get thousands of dollars per migrant according to these TikTok videos used by the Mexican cartels and provided to CNN by Texas Department of Public Safety.

Why would the cartels pay drivers so much?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're trying to pass this checkpoint right here.

FLORES (voice-over): There are Border Patrol checkpoints in south Texas that those drivers have to go through, sometimes with human cargo.

FLORES: Smugglers will try to avoid that checkpoint by guiding migrants through this tough terrain. Now, the migrants that can keep up continue North. But ones that can't are left behind, sometimes to die.

FLORES (voice-over): Migrant deaths so far this year, a record nearly 750, a number already exceeding last year's total of 557.

The alleged driver in the deadly June tractor-trailer tragedy in San Antonio apparently went through a checkpoint near Laredo. He has pleaded not guilty. It's unclear if the migrants were already on board.

While Larrabee says a lot has changed in the business of human smuggling, one thing is constant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you stand? Come on.

FLORES (voice-over): Smugglers have no regard for human life.

FLORES: In April, the Biden administration launched an effort to disrupt and dismantle human smuggling organizations. So far nearly 5,000 individuals have been arrested.

As a matter of fact, just last week, eight individuals were arrested, and they allegedly helped smuggle hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals into this country in brutal conditions.

Rosa Flores, CNN, El Paso, Texas.


VAUSE: When we come back here on CNN, King Charles settling into his royal duties and promising a lifetime of service, just like his mother.



VAUSE: Just like his mother, who was Britain's longest-serving monarch, Prince Charles III has promised lifelong service in his new role as king. CNN's Nina dos Santos reports from London.


NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Under the reign of a new king, the United Kingdom is slowly returning to a new normal.

With the late Queen Elizabeth II laid to rest, a new Carolean era, as it's known, is merging towards its second week, along with all the ritual and tradition the royal family is known for. First, a national address.

KING CHARLES II, UNITED KINGDOM: That promise of lifelong service, I renew to all today.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): Then the official proclamation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prince Charles Philip Arthur George has now, by the death of our late sovereign of happy memory, become our only lawful and rightful liege lord, Charles III.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): And as he and a nation mourned, a bereaved son took on his duties as monarch.

That means meeting crowds and traveling to all four nations of an increasingly disunited Kingdom, including one which he had been prince of since the age of nine.

DOS SANTOS: And this is the moment the late Queen Elizabeth II's son has returned to Wales, no longer as a prince, instead as a king, marked by a 21-gun salute here at Cardiff Castle.


DOS SANTOS (voice-over): He also met with the U.K.'s newly-appointed prime minister.

KING CHARLES: The moment I've been dreading, as I know a lot of people have.

DOS SANTOS (voice-over): But perhaps the image that will linger most is that of a stoic somber king, holding a vigil by his late mother's side.

For 70 years Queen Elizabeth reigned over the country, and her legacy will last for decades to come. But for now at least, the nation seems united behind its king.

Nina dos Santos, CNN, in London.


VAUSE: Thank you for watching. I'm John Vause. I'll be back at the top of the hour with another hour of CNN NEWSROOM. But first WORLD SPORT starts after a short break. See you soon.