Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Putin Orders More Troops, Makes Veiled Nuclear Threats; Iran Rejects Double Standards on Human Rights; Protests Intensify over Death of Woman in Morality Police Custody; Convicts, Mercenaries Fight for Russia in Bakhmut; Pending U.S. Federal Reserve Interest Rate Announcement; Smuggled Migrants Face Danger to Reach U.S. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 21, 2022 - 10:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An escalation of tensions: Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered more troops and with a

veiled nuclear threats says he is not bluffing.

And, within the hour, we expect to hear what the U.S. president has to say about Russia's invasion of Ukraine when Joe Biden returns to the U.N.

General Assembly.

Iran's defiant. Protesters burn head scarves and cut their hair after the death of a woman in custody. They want freedom from harsh religious rules

and they want it now.


GIOKOS: I'm Eleni Giokos in Dubai, welcome to CONNECT THE WORLD.

Our top story: drastic action in Russia's war in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin ordering a partial mobilization of Russian citizens to boost his military

power. The Russian president says it begins today. The Kremlin is calling up around 300,000 reservists after Ukraine's swift recapture of large

amounts of territory in recent weeks. Take a listen to this.


VLADIMIR PUTIN, PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA (through translator): This is not a bluff. The citizens of Russia can be sure that the territorial integrity of

our homeland, our independence and freedom will be ensured. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the prevailing

winds can turn in their direction.


GIOKOS: A top Ukrainian official is responding to Putin's big speech by tweeting, quote, "Life has a great sense of humor."

Now the mobilization for his plans announced Tuesday, for what the Kremlin calls referenda, in four Ukrainian areas that are under Russian control

right now. We have team coverage on the story, CNN's Matthew Chance is standing by for us in London. Ben Wedeman is on the ground in Ukraine, live

from Kharkiv.

Ben, I want to start with you. Russia, we know, has had manpower issues for months now. This is a big declaration about more boots on the ground. Let's

talk about how this will be put to practice.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the big question. We understand already there are protests against this in Russia.

For instance, already, the prosecutor, state prosecutor in Moscow has renewed a warning about protesting, saying the sentence for that could be

as much as 15 years in jail.

Until now, the Russians have been using all sorts of techniques to avoid this sort of partial mobilization. For instance, we know there is that

video that circulated, of a member of the Wagner group, going to prisons to offer prisoners the chance to go fight in Ukraine.

By and large, the Russian government has been offering fairly good salaries for those who are willing to go fight in Ukraine, salaries much larger than

the average Russian citizen receives.

But now they have gone a step further. Now it is partial mobilization of 300,000 people with some sort of military background. But what this means

is, whereas it was voluntary in the past, some people will be called up who don't want to serve.

That raises all sorts of other problems. We know, going back to the experience of the Americans in Vietnam, when you have a draft and you make

people go into the military in a war they don't necessarily want to be in, they are not very good at fighting. Eleni.

GIOKOS: Yes. The morale, right?

That's the big question, we are talking about conscription here.

When you talk about the mobilization, then, the expectation is, how will it affect the front lines?

Do you have any idea on this?

WEDEMAN: Well, for one thing it will take months and months to actually get these people from their lives to the front lines. We have seen the

Russians have had problems with providing basic winter gear, for instance, and basic equipment.


WEDEMAN: In fact, Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary general of NATO, had this to say about the partial mobilization.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: I think we should be careful about the exact numbers. But of course, any mobilization will add to the

number of troops and forces they have.

That will take time and they will require equipment. And what we have seen so far is that the Russian troops are ill-equipped. They lack proper

command and control and they also have struggled a lot with logistics. But of course, more troops will escalate the conflict.


WEDEMAN: And, yes, escalate the conflict, it will. Certainly, the Ukrainians have been quite happy with the recent advances in the Kyiv

region, where thousands of square kilometers have been liberated from the Russians.

But the Russians still control large parts of the country. And the Ukrainians at this point simply do not have the manpower, the weaponry to

completely push them out.

So with winter coming, it may be that the Russians will use this period to do exactly what they have to do with these new members of the armed forces,

to train them, equip them, deploy them. Eleni.

GIOKOS: Ben Wedeman in Kharkiv, thank you so very much. We have Matthew Chance standing by as well.

Matthew, listening to Putin say this is not a bluff. In the meantime, Putin's accusing the West of engaging in nuclear blackmail.

How serious is this nuclear threat coming from the Kremlin?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have heard nuclear threats coming from the Kremlin in the past. They have been

amplified on Russian state television. They are always talking about potentially reducing Western capitals to ashes.

I think the most serious military observers, who look at these threats very carefully, they are not taking them sort of that seriously at the moment

simply because they don't see the preparations in Russia needed for military strikes of that kind.

Also they are not discounting the fact that the consequences for Russia, of carrying out any kind of nuclear action against the West, really against

Ukraine, could be catastrophic for Russia itself. So that is not often talked about on Russian television.

But that is a fact, it's hoped everyone in Russia, included its leadership, are aware of.

You know, the recent developments of Russia enacting these snap referendums in the four territories, it's basically got under its control inside

Ukraine, due to absorbing them into the Russian state and then announcing we will defend mother Russia with nuclear weapons if necessary, that does

up the ante quite a lot.

Even if it might be a bluff, despite the fact that Vladimir Putin says he is not bluffing, it nevertheless has to be part of the calculations moving

forward, not just of the Ukrainians but of their Western backers as well. It makes this already complicated and hazardous battlefield potentially

even more dangerous.

GIOKOS: Matthew Chance, thank you very much for breaking that down for us, I appreciate it.

Moving on now, in the coming hours, Ukraine's president will address the U.N. General Assembly. But Volodymyr Zelenskyy's speech will not be

delivered live but rather prerecorded. The war in his country looms larger over this year's UNGA.

German chancellor Olaf Scholz urged members of the U.N. to take action against Russia for war crimes committed in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Turkiye's president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged the world to find what he calls a dignified way out of the crisis.


RECEP TAYYIP ERDOGAN, PRESIDENT OF TURKEY (through translator): We have proven our stance while we were fighting against the crisis created as a

result of the Russian-Ukraine conflict.

The Ukrainian conflict is exceeding the seventh month threshold. And we think that the war will never have a triumph and a fair peace process will

not have allusure (ph).

This is important because we are always underlining the significance of diplomacy in the settlement of the dispute through dialogue once and for

all. That's why we put together the parties in Antalya Diplomacy Forum and then in Istanbul, to become facilitators in a reconciliation process.


GIOKOS: All right.


GIOKOS: Becky spoke with the European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell on Tuesday, before President Putin's announcement and asked him

about this conflict and how Europe could weather some of the brutal fallout. That is including the energy and cost of living crisis. Have a

listen to what he had to say.


JOSEP BORRELL, E.U. HIGH REPRESENTATIVE FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS & SECURITY POLICY: We are facing a big challenge. But they don't have a magic wand.

What we tried to do, is to stop buying gas, to be able to take a cut from the Russian suppliers.

Looking for alternative sources of gas, putting a top on the benefits, on the revenue of the electricity producers to avoid that they have

unjustified benefits, and distributing data (ph) among the consumers.

And to continue supporting Ukraine because all these problems have a root cause and the root cause is the war in Ukraine. And as far as the war in

Ukraine continue waging, we will have this trouble. So we have to find a solution, look for a solution for this war to stop.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST: The war in Ukraine is likely to be front and center for many people in New York. Kyiv is touting its counteroffensive is


But how concerned are you that successful referenda in the occupied east could escalate this war?

Certainly, we will not recognize any kind of referendum in the occupied territories. The word "occupied territories" says everything. To hold a

referendum in the middle of a war, in occupied territory, belonging to another country, has no guarantee of nothing.

So we do not recognize any kind of referenda, as far as we don't recognize the so-called independent republics (INAUDIBLE). If Putin organizes a fake

referendum in this part of Ukraine, once again, (INAUDIBLE) the sovereignty of Ukraine over its territory, it will only add more complexity and more

tension in an already very dire (ph) situation.


GIOKOS: Ukraine is sure to be a topic when President Biden speaks at the U.N. General Assembly. You are looking at live pictures of day 2 of general

debates. Mr. Biden, in the meantime, is expected to take the podium later this hour or next. We are monitoring all the developments. We will hear his

speech live on CNN.

Later we will also hear from Britain's new prime minister, Liz Truss, as well as French president Emmanuel Macron, speaking at an event next hour.

That will be focused on the IAEA's efforts to mitigate the danger at Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant.

Senior United Nations correspondent Richard Roth joins me now.

Richard, always good to see you. It's a big day, we are hearing from leaders, where they stand. Messaging will be vital.

What are the major events at the UNGA you're looking out for?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: There's no doubt President Biden's speech, when it happens this morning, four more speakers to go

before Biden's turn. It was normally the day before on Tuesday. But because of the queen's funeral, President Biden is coming in now to the U.N. to

speak to the delegates.

He also meets on a one-on-one with Liz Truss, the new British prime minister in the U.N. building. Earlier, we heard from the relatively new

Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi. And the Iranian president says there's a double standard on women's rights.

He has certainly been attacked; there have been protesters on the streets over the death of this young woman at the hand of religious police.

He said what about all of the people killed, the indigenous people in Canada?

What about people killed by Israelis among the population of the Palestinians?

He also said once again, like every Iranian president who has visited the U.N. General Assembly, there are no plans for any nuclear weapons. We are

not doing that, that is his opinion.

The IAEA will say that there are programs or activities at nuclear plants, that they don't have the cameras or have access for. And there is still no

negotiations, progressive moving forward on this stalled nuclear deal.

There is Raisi, entering the U.N. building earlier this morning. Later today, as you mentioned, the Ukrainian president will speak by prerecorded

video. That's in the afternoon.

So a full day, many other events on the sidelines. We'll get a briefing from the IAEA chairman, Mr. Grossi, probably about the Zaporizhzhya

nuclear power plant and whatever else is going on.

And our State Department team says that the President of the United States is not expected to mention or counter President Putin's announcement of a

partial mobilization of 300,000 people announced today.


ROTH: That remains to be seen. Back to you.

GIOKOS: Thank you so much, Richard. It is certainly a busy agenda, lots of pressing issues to talk about as well. We will be will monitoring those as

they happen here on CNN.

After the break, the anger and outrage in Iran is intensifying after the death of a 22-year old in police custody. Women are raising their voices in

defiance. A live report on the situation there, when we return.

And we are awaiting U.S. President Joe Biden's speech at the U.N. General Assembly, happening in New York. The war in Ukraine said to be a major

talking point. Live coverage coming to you from the U.N. right now. Stay here on CNN.





GIOKOS (voice-over): This is the face of defiance in Iran, a woman, cutting her hair on top of a utility box, that as crowds cheer her on.

Another instance, protesters burn head scarves, coming together to show their anger toward Iran's security operations. The chant, "Women, life,

freedom," has become one of their rallying cries.

These demonstrations follow the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody. Iran's supreme leader is promising a thorough investigation into

her death on Friday. Her death joined international condemnation and the ire of women. And many have taken to the streets in the globe and that is

in solidarity.

France called the incident profoundly shocking on Tuesday. French president Emmanuel Macron met with Iran's president, Ebrahim Raisi, on the sidelines

of the UNGA. He later told reporters that he pressed the issue of human rights from Mr. Raisi.

Well, Mr. Raisi just spoke at the U.N. assembly. And while he did not directly mention the protests, he had this to say.


EBRAHIM RAISI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects some of the double standards of some governments

vis-a-vis human rights and sees that as the most important factor, which has rendered banal the topic of human rights in the eyes of many.

Because this is something that is currently taking place, the discourse that is taking place in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where we started

speaking of and creating a dialogue about the deaths of tens of innocent women in a Western country.

So until we have these double standards, where attention is solely focused on one side and not all equally, we will not have true justice, fairness.

Human rights belongs to all.


RAISI (through translator): But unfortunately, it is trampled upon by many governments.


CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has been following this fast-moving story from Istanbul, Turkiye.

Ebrahim Raisi calling on the West, saying there are double standards, even drawing on examples. Here's the thing: last night we saw a major

escalation in scope of these protests across the country. People looking inwards to see what is happening in their realities.

So how widespread is this?

What has the reaction by the government been?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Eleni, for the past few days, we have been watching these protests across Iran beginning to grow,

spread into different cities.

And last night, we started seeing these videos emerging on social media, absolutely incredible images described by Iranians, by Iran, as something

historic, unprecedented, something like we have never seen before.


KARADSHEH (voice-over): It seems unprecedented in the Islamic Republic. A woman cuts her hair as the crowd cheers her on, chanting, "Death to the


Rare images are trickling out from across Iran, where thousands have taken to the streets in daring acts of defiance, never seen before on this scale.

Women are at the forefront of demonstrations in dozens of cities, from the Kurdish northwest to the capital of Iran or even more conservative cities.

They are risking being jailed or even flogged for defying the country's strict Islamic dress code. But that has not stopped them. Many were

removing and burning their head scarves.

The protests were sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, while in the custody of the morality police. Authorities say she died of a heart

attack, which her parents do not believe. The authorities say an autopsy is being reviewed.

But the protests have snowballed into much more than that with women chanting for life and freedom, freedoms that were taking away from them by

the 1979 Islamic revolution.

Young men and women say enough is enough to decades of tyranny, questioning the very existence of the morality police, a notorious force tasked with

implementing the strict dress code, accused of countless abuses and ill treatment of women.

The repressive violates acts on the rise in recent months, according to the United Nations.

RAVINA SHAMDASANI, OFFICE OF HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: In recent months, the so-called morality police have expanded street patrols,

subjecting women perceived to be wearing loose hijab to verbal and physical harassment and the rest.

Our office has received numerous, unverified videos of violent treatment of women, including slapping women across the face, beating them with batons

and throwing them into police vans.

The authorities must stop targeting, harassing and detaining women who do not abide by the hijab rules. Nadal Nashif (ph) is calling for the repeal

of all discriminatory laws and regulations that impose mandatory hijab.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Reunions outside the country are sharing videos like this one on social media, in solidarity with their country men and

women. Many who have fled Iran in recent years are holding onto the hope that this could be a turning point.

SHIMA BABAEI, IRANIAN WOMEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST (through translator): Indeed, a movement has started. And I think this is the beginning of

something. Women are protesting on the streets, setting their scarves on fire and eradicating any symbols of the Iranian regime from the streets.

Iranian people clearly know that freedom will only be achieved if they can put an end to this brutal regime. This is the new era for Iran.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Authorities are cracking down on the countrywide protests. Several people have been killed or injured so far, according to a

human rights group. But the streets have responded with more protests, a generation rising up for freedoms they have never had.


KARADSHEH: The United Nations human rights office says it is very concerned about this reported use of excessive and unnecessary force by the

security forces in dealing with these protests.

We heard from the acting United Nations human rights commissioner, saying that the tragic death of Mahsa Amini must be investigated. It must be

investigated promptly but by an independent and competent authority.

But Eleni, while so many on the streets are still calling for an investigation, they want justice, the truth of what happened to Amini, this

has clearly turned into something much more than that.


GIOKOS: Jomana Karadsheh, thank you very much for that.

All right, the protests in Iran, one of our main topics this week, in CNN's "Meanwhile in the Middle East" newsletter. If you have not signed up yet,

please do so.

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini has put Iran's morality police back into the spotlight, questions arising about the role and their very

existence. Just go to for details on the story.

We will have more on Iran and other issues in the next hour, when we speak to the European Union's foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, says dialogue

is the only way out of the multiple crises facing the world today. A conversation with Borrell coming up in the next hour, ahead on CONNECT THE


The U.S. President Joe Biden is set to speak at the U.N. General Assembly soon, with a big focus on Russia's war in Ukraine. We will bring you his

speech, live. We are monitoring what is happening in New York right now. We will have that for you after the break. Stay with CNN.




GIOKOS: Welcome back, I'm Eleni Giokos in Dubai.

We have an eye on the United Nations this hour, where U.S. President Joe Biden is due to speak soon. The White House says he will issue a firm

rebuke of Russia's war in Ukraine but he does not plan to directly respond to President Putin's provocative speech earlier today, ordering more troops

to fight in Ukraine.

We will bring you that speech by the U.S. President live as it happens.

Vladimir Putin's order for more reservists to fight in Ukraine is seen as a major escalation in the war. Russian officials say it will involve calling

up 300,000 troops. But Putin's speech also contains the ominous pledge to use all means available to protect his country as well as a reference to

the potential use of nuclear weapons.

All this as Ukraine's president prepares to address the UNGA in a prerecorded message. Now the Russian mobilization comes after some

humiliating losses in Ukraine. Already, Russia has been sending convicts and mercenaries into battle to bolster the fight. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh

reports from the front lines in the eastern city of Bakhmut.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR (voice-over): The mood here is black and old. From a time past, Ukraine didn't feel it

was winning, taking heavy losses and struggling to hold on.


WALSH (voice-over): But the Russian enemy is something new.

This is a very front line with Russian positions, literally a hundred 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (from captions): Let's go while our Grad rockets are firing.

WALSH: We are taken up to their vantage point from where they see the Wagner fighters rush at them leading the Ukrainians to open fire. And it is

just over there. They say that Russian Wagner mercenaries appear to try and run at them exposing Ukrainian positions so the Russian artillery can hit

where they are.

The fields 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're 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 acts professionally, not like usual infantry units.

Shells continue to land all around them. Bakhmut is a mess. Russia edging toward it but not inside. Prepared for street-to-street fighting and

meanwhile, torn to pieces. But the losses are heavy and expose positions around the city, particularly here. Russia's invasion tearing through the

green treasured land it claims to cover it.

Why do they want Bakhmut so much?

"They retreated elsewhere and they need a victory something is 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, sometimes heavily injured. I lost my close friend five days after we came


A few roads away Andriy (ph) is cycling. His eyes tell you how life is here.

"First, the shooting but there's no electricity or water. It's not too bad. Only every second house is ruined."

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

"We sold half a ton today." she says,

"Who knows if the shelling is coming or going?

"Don't be scared," she said.

Twenty-four hours later, a Ukrainian artillery is hitting positions on the city's edge amid reports Russia has got closer. Much fresh smoke and 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.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (from captions): 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.


GIOKOS: Meanwhile, all eyes on the U.S. Federal Reserve. The central bank is expected to make a critical decision on interest rates today. That's in

an effort to core inflation. Economists expect the Fed to hike rates by three quarters of a percentage point.

There's also a possibility it could raise rates by 1 percent, which is unprecedented. This decision could cause economic pain for millions of

Americans. CNN Business correspondent Rahel Solomon joins me now.

And Rahel, just for our viewers, this is so important. When the Federal Reserve hikes rates, it means a stronger U.S. dollar. It means an impacts

on commodity prices and, importantly, for emerging markets.

This has big moves, right?

For the United States, for the Federal Reserve, they have to look inwards and try to fix this inflation problem.

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Inflation which is still at 8.3 percent, right?

Take a look at the how markets are reacting. Markets are actually higher, which is interesting. Because as you pointed out, Eleni, we are expecting

another massive rate hike of three quarters of a percent. All the major averages up about half a percent right now.

You can argue that, barring any surprises, barring a full percentage point rate hike, the markets were expecting this, right?

The last time we heard from Federal Reserve chairman Jay Powell, was July. He made comments in the press conference that were perceived by some as

dovish and the markets ended higher.


SOLOMON: Since then, he's taken a very different tone. We heard from him at Jackson Hole, at the Cato institute. It was a very hawkish, aggressive

tone and the markets did not like that. So it will be very interesting, today, to hear, Eleni, not just in terms of what they do with interest

rates but what they say about future interest rates.

GIOKOS: Absolutely.

Look, the question is the beginning of the end for rates rises, are we looking at further hikes?

This is really just dependent on how impactful the cycle has been, this rise of interest rates over, you know, five consecutive times, which is

mind-boggling and it has not really worked.

SOLOMON: It is a great point, right?

This will be the sixth meeting. But this will be the fifth rate hike. But we do know that rate hikes are expected. Citibank says they are expecting

another half a percent in November, another half a percent in December.

The question is, when will it start to work?

We have not yet seen signs with inflation still at 8.3 percent. We know the target is 2 percent but we have a ways to go.

GIOKOS: We have a way to go, so you and I will talk about this for the next few months. (CROSSTALK)

Yes, keeping us busy. All right, thank you so much.

Ahead on CONNECT THE WORLD, U.S. President Joe Biden will soon speak at the UNGA and much of the focus will likely be on Russia's war in Ukraine. We

will bring you his speech live. We are monitoring New York right now. There are live images as you can see. Stay here for CNN.




GIOKOS: U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that 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 is driving the numbers up.

Migrants often face treacherous conditions when crossing the border, like oppressive desert heat and dangerous waters. CNN's Rosa Flores shows us

just how dangerous it can get. We want to warn you, some of the video in her report is disturbing to watch.


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


FLORES (voice-over): -- 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 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 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're 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.

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

FLORES: Hidalgo County Sheriff's Lt. 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 put aluminum foil and-or cardboard so nobody can see inside. So they can't see outside.

FLORES (voice-over): From those stash houses, migrants are packed in travel trailers.

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

FLORES (voice-over): In the trunks of cars, toolboxes, vans and other vehicles that are sometimes locked shut like this one last week -- that had

to be by pried open by law enforcement.

The drivers sometimes get thousands of 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. The 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.


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 people

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.


GIOKOS: Thank you very much for that report, Rosa.

That is it for this hour. Coming up next is "WORLD SPORT." More CONNECT THE WORLD at the top of the hour, stay with us.