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Campbell Brown

U.S. Marshal's Body Found Shot in Mexico; Interview With Texas Congressman Ron Paul

Aired March 26, 2009 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: We begin quickly tonight with breaking news from the mayhem in Mexico.

Bullet point number one: word coming in right now that the body of a U.S. marshal has been found in Juarez. He may have been shot in the head repeatedly, execution style. Anderson Cooper has been reporting out the details on the shooting, and he's going to have the very latest for us live on the border.

We're "Cutting Through The Bull" also to look at what's really behind all the violence in Mexico. And it is us and our appetites for illegal drugs in this country. We will talk about that.

Bullet point number two: President Obama drawn into the drug debate as well today at his first ever White House town hall, answering questions sent in online. The president was surprised to learn just how many people wanted him to weigh in on whether or not the U.S. should legalize marijuana.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know what this says about the online audience...


... but I just want -- I don't want people to think that -- this was a fairly popular question. We want to make sure that it was answered.

The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy.


BROWN: We're going to take a closer look at this.

Also, former presidential candidate Ron Paul here tonight, because he has a decidedly different take on this matter. We will talk to him shortly.

And bullet point number three: Gun owners across the nation are absolutely convinced President Obama will restrict their firearms, if not take them away. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show of hands here, who thinks President Obama wants gun control, wants to restrict the kinds of guns you can get? Really, why?


BROWN: You're going to hear what they have to say on this and learn a lot about their worries, as we take a NO BIAS, NO BULL look at this new debate, President Obama and guns.

And bullet point number four, we have been talking about this all day around here. This is an NFL player and his family. They were stopped by a Dallas police officer after running a red light while racing to the hospital to see this NFL player's dying mother-in-law. He was apparently just feet from the entrance to the hospital when the officer demanded he stay put.

Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mother-in-law is dying right now!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to me. Listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're wasting my time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I can't verify you have insurance, I'm going to tow the car.


BROWN: You're going to want to see the whole tape. We're going to show it to you a little bit later. By the time this was over, the mother-in-law had in fact passed away, and you're going to hear how police are responding now that this video has been made public.

First tonight, though, we do want to go right to our breaking news.

As I mentioned before, a U.S. marshal has been found dead south of the border in Mexico -- this story broke a few hours ago -- in Juarez, the big city just across the border from El Paso, Texas.

Anderson Cooper in El Paso, where he has been all week covering the mayhem in Mexico, he's been talking to sources about what may have happened here.

Anderson, what do we know?

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Yes, it's a very strange story.

Vincent Bustamante, a 17-year veteran of the U.S. Marshals Service, he was a deputy U.S. marshal, he was also a former police officer here in El Paso, Texas. He was found, his body identified yesterday, the announcement made today, once his family was notified. It's believed he may have been killed several days before he was found with at least one bullet wound to the back of the head seemingly execution style, his body found in a canal so badly composed, it took them a couple days to figure out exactly who this person was.

We're told he was not on the duty at the time. And in fact there was a bench warrant out for his arrest here in Texas on federal charges. He was supposed to appear in court on the 18th of this month, didn't show up, and they now know that, on the 17th, he crossed over into Mexico and that was the last anybody heard from him until he wound up dead.

Exactly why this has occurred is not known. The charges as we understand them are that he was accused of stealing some guns and other equipment from the U.S. Marshals Service from a safe of the U.S. Marshals and pawning them, and then he would go back on the day he actually got paid and try to buy them back.

One of the pawnshop owners got suspicious, contacted the ATF, and that's how the investigation began to unravel. So, clearly, there was more going on in this deputy marshal's life than simply his job. And he has now wound up dead, just another victim of this escalating violence which has been plaguing Mexico now for the past two years, as the Mexican government has been waging war against the drug cartels. We're going to be having a lot more about that tonight -- Campbell.

BROWN: And, Anderson, I know you also spoke to a member, as you said, of the cartel. Give us a sense for what he had to say, what he shared with you.

COOPER: Yes, it was really fascinating.

This is a man who claims to be a mid-level member of a Mexican drug cartel. And his claim has been verified by two trusted sources who have worked in this region for a long time who we are in touch with.

We agreed not to identify him by name and to conceal his identity. But we want you to hear what he has to say about the violence now taking place in Mexico. Listen.


COOPER: There's always been violence associated with drug routes. There's always been violence associated with the trafficking of drugs. But it seems like the violence has changed. You're seeing beheadings now, public executions. Why has the nature of the violence changed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nature of the violence has changed because the message that we want to send out to the other cartel, that's a message to the opposite cartel, telling them, hey, this is what's going to happen if we get you.

COOPER: So, by cutting off people's heads, they're sending a message? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they are, let them who it's -- who is it coming from and who's giving out the orders and who's it going for.

COOPER: How much does it cost to get somebody killed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now, across the border, it's $100.

COOPER: One hundred dollars?


COOPER: In Mexico -- if you wanted to have somebody killed in Mexico, it would cost about $100?


COOPER: What about in the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe $500 to $1,000.


COOPER: We will have a lot about -- with our conversation with him later tonight -- Campbell.

BROWN: Again, Anderson will be reporting at 10:00 tonight on "A.C. 360."

Anderson, thanks.

And as we continue taking a hard look at Mexico, we have a disturbing tale to share with you from one American family vowing never to return. They were doing nothing wrong, but were abducted.


DEBRA HALL, KIDNAPPED IN MEXICO: They first got in the truck and opened the back door. Our son said: "Oh, my God. Please, no, God."

And if I live to be 100, I will always hear that tone in his voice.


BROWN: You're going to hear more of their story. What are the chances something like that could happen to you?

Also, the debate over legalizing marijuana. We're taking a NO BIAS, NO BULL look at the practical, health, legal, and moral complications and implications when we come back.


COOPER: We are "Cutting Through The Bull" tonight.

And with so much focus right now on the barbaric violence happening in Mexico, it seems like a good time for a conversation about drugs. Specifically, tonight, we're going to cover a lot of ground, not just about the war taking place now on the border, but about us.

Chances are there isn't a person watching tonight who doesn't have firsthand knowledge of drugs, not that we have all used them, but I'm willing to bet all of us know someone who has.

President Obama admitted his indiscretions with pot and cocaine as a teenager. Rush Limbaugh's recovery from painkillers is well- documented. By the way, when was the last time that you could say the president and Rush had something in common?

Not everybody who has ever tried drugs is a violent criminal. Does anybody actually think Michael Phelps won't be invited back to the Olympics?

Secretary of State Clinton accurately pointed out on her way to Mexico this week that our nation's insatiable demand for illegal drugs, as she said, plays a key role in what is happening south of the border. And that's one part of the conversation we're going to have, but not the whole discussion.

If we're going to find intelligent answers to an issue that clearly isn't going away, all of us need to speak up, because all of us somehow have a connection.

You're going to hear a number of different perspectives tonight.

And we want to hear from you on this as well. So, e-mail us at And we will share you thoughts a little bit later.

We're going to start that conversation shortly, NO BIAS, NO BULL look at whether marijuana should be legalized.

We will be right back.


BROWN: In the past 24 hours, we have heard Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Mexico saying America has to confront its appetite for drugs. Some say the best way to do that is to legalize marijuana.

Well, today, at a virtual town meeting, President Obama was bombarded with questions on the topic. Take a listen to what he had to say.


OBAMA: I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high, and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation.


And I don't know what this says about the online audience... (LAUGHTER)

... but I just want -- I don't want people to think that -- this was a fairly popular question. We want to make sure that it was answered.

OBAMA: The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy.


BROWN: The president sidestepped the question a bit there. But the fact remains that America's drug habit shows no signs of slowing down.

Tom Foreman is here with some numbers on that which actually may surprise you -- Tom.


Marijuana is the United States' illegal drug of choice, according to a study by the Department of Health and Human Services, which found 14 million Americans saying they used it in the past month. And the users start quite young.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says about 17 percent of eighth graders have tried it, almost half of high school seniors. The percentage of people using pot is generally steady, but the potency of the marijuana itself is up.

The DEA says pot grown in the 1970s for example was less than half as strong as what people smoke today. Better growing technology has also made the cost of getting high cheaper.

And that is a key problem when people start talking about legalizing marijuana. The RAND Corporation, which has studied this a good bit, says no one really knows how much it would cost to legally produce marijuana, how much would be grown, and how much it could be sold for.

Presumably, like alcohol, you could not sell it to minors or drive while smoking it. But how would we pay for enforcement, Campbell? That's one of the other questions.

BROWN: Well, I know a lot of proponents, Tom, of legalization say taxes. Tax the marijuana that's sold. What's the counter to that?

FOREMAN: Well, it could be taxed, Campbell, but RAND points out you could be talking about a big job here, policing some additional 14 million or more users of a regulated substance even if it's legal. And that could take a lot of taxes.

And if the taxes on marijuana are made too high to pay for all of this, once again, illegal pot could become popular because it could be cheaper. And there is this. The active drug in marijuana, the part that makes you high, is called tetrahydrocannabinol, THC. And it varies from plant to plant.

If the government wants to approve legal use, almost certainly, there would have to be a way to determine just how powerful any pack was.

Those are just some of the practical complications, on top of the health and moral debates about whether this drug should be legal -- Campbell.

BROWN: And there's plenty to talk about on that front as well.

Tom Foreman for us tonight -- Tom, thanks.

So, as I said, lots of questions about how we might legalize marijuana, but the biggest question obviously remains here, should we do it at all?

And we have two guests tonight on opposite ends of the spectrum here.

Joining me now, Representative Ron Paul, who of course ran for president last year, and former Oklahoma Republican Congressman Ernest Istook, who is now with the conservative Heritage Foundation. A longtime supporter he has been of the war on drugs.

Gentlemen, welcome to you both.

Congressman Paul, let me start with you on this.

You saw the president earlier. He doesn't seem particularly inclined to legalize marijuana, but, for years, you have been advocating that the federal government do just that. Make your case.

REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Well, I think the war on drugs in general is just a total disaster.

We spend $40 billion a year, and all it does is, it enhances the drug dealers. Prohibition for alcohol was a disaster and now we have done the same thing over and over again. You're only talking about going back to 1937.

Prior to 1937, the federal government wasn't involved. That was when the first tax was placed on it. And I just think that the states that legalize it -- if any conservative ever considered states' rights, they ought to under these conditions, because these states legalize it -- I'm a physician, and I can vouch for the fact that some very sick people benefit from marijuana.

Sick people that have AIDS and cancer can use marijuana and benefit by it. And then compassionate conservatives come along and they arrest them under federal law. They overrule state law and they put sick people in prison for this. It makes no sense.

And I don't know why we should be such strong supporters of Roosevelt's position to go ahead and tax and then eventually lead to illegal -- making it illegal. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I believe in a free society and making freedom of choice.


BROWN: All right, let me let -- Congressman Istook, go ahead.


Well, you know, this is no time to surrender. In the last eight years, our efforts to enforce and educate people have brought down the teenage use of marijuana by 25 percent. That's a significant reduction. Now, that hasn't been mentioned before, but it should be.

When you're talking about medical marijuana, the substance THC is actually already available in prescription form. It's a prescription drug called Marinol. It's used to treat the very things.

There is no medication that is used by smoking. In fact, marijuana smoke has four times the tar of tobacco smoke. It has some 400 harmful substances in it. So, don't tell me you need marijuana for medical purposes.

And don't tell me that the cost is measured by only the cost of drug enforcement. Look at the broken homes. Look at the lost jobs. Look at the consequences of drug legalization generally.

Now, Ron has not mentioned, but he's said before he doesn't just want to legalize marijuana. He wants to legalize drugs, period, which makes it all the more possible for marijuana to be a gateway drug to harder drugs, like cocaine, opium, heroin, and so forth.

BROWN: All right, I'm going to let you respond to that, Congressman Paul, but I want to, with both of you, just bring the question back to the issue of violence on the border, because it's where our focus is right now, given what's happening in Texas.

And, Congressman Paul, you're from Texas. You're right there on the Mexican border in your district. If marijuana were to be legalized, what would change?

PAUL: Well, the first thing is, is -- but I just don't think just legalizing marijuana would do the trick. I think we have to have a different attitude.

I think Ernie just doesn't have a whole lot of respect for the Constitution, because, prior to 1937, none of these...


ISTOOK: Ron, the Supreme Court has ruled on this issue already, and your side lost.


BROWN: Congressman, if you could just go back to the question I asked, which was about the violence on the border, given where you live. (CROSSTALK)

PAUL: I -- I really think it's...


BROWN: Give us a sense for how life would change.

PAUL: I think the border wars going on right now, it's related to drugs, just as the wars went on in Chicago and other cities, when Al Capone controlled everything.

So, you want the killings -- there were a lot of killings back with prohibition. If people want to really stop some violence and bad drugs and -- stop cigarettes and stop alcohol. But we don't do that.

ISTOOK: It's not just drugs. It's not just drugs at the border.


ISTOOK: ... combined in this problem.

PAUL: It is.


ISTOOK: Ron, Ron, I used to handle the funding for the Customs Service.

PAUL: Yes.

ISTOOK: The same people that run the drugs and the guns are also running the illegal immigrants. They are smugglers, pure and simple.

And all of these things about border enforcement and enforcement against illegal...


ISTOOK: ... illegal drugs all go together.

PAUL: Did you have any of that before the war on drugs? No. How do you think the Taliban exists?

ISTOOK: Sure we had smuggling before that.


ISTOOK: Ron, let's not surrender. Let's not surrender and subject -- do we need new intoxicants in our society?

PAUL: Well, why do you surrender to the -- don't want to obey the Constitution. If you want regulation...


ISTOOK: The Supreme Court ruled five years ago that the federal law supersedes any state law on marijuana.


PAUL: Yes, well, that is the case, but that's not the way the Constitution...


ISTOOK: It was a 6-3 decision.

PAUL: I just don't think there's any benefit to just trying to talk over somebody. If somebody wants to ask me a question, I will answer it, but I'm not going to try to fuss and out-shout somebody.


ISTOOK: Ron, neither one of us hopefully should do that.

PAUL: No, but...

BROWN: No, let me just -- because I want to get your take on this one thing, Congressman Istook.


BROWN: You heard Tom Foreman a moment ago.

ISTOOK: Right.

He sort of addressed this. And we have a separate issue here. The Bush administration, you know, basically, they had the zero- tolerance policy on marijuana, including medical marijuana. They did raids. They did prosecutions.

But the Obama administration has recently announced they're not going to do that, not follow that same policy. Where do you stand on this? Do you think that's a mistake?

ISTOOK: It's a huge mistake, because you're sending a mixed message.

If you say -- if Barack Obama wants to have it both ways -- and he's not the only politician that does this -- I respect Ron Paul's attitude that he clearly says he wants to legalize these drugs. At least he's giving a clear message.

Barack Obama on the one hand says, don't legalize it, but on the other hand, I'm not going to enforce the law.

The Supreme Court ruled -- it was in the Wright decision four or five years ago -- that state medical marijuana laws are subject to the federal law that says you cannot have medical marijuana. So, we have had a clear ruling. But now the whole waters are being muddied. It's the mixed messages that causes problems in trying to enforce the drug laws and lead to the violations that we're seeing. BROWN: All right, gentlemen, I wish we had more time. I know there's so much to talk about on this front. I really appreciate both of you coming on.


BROWN: Congressman Paul, Congressman Istook, thank you for your time tonight.

ISTOOK: Thanks.

BROWN: We are about to look closer at the violence along the border. We are just getting in a report on the desperate fight to stop the tide of drugs flowing north from Mexico into Arizona. We will tell you about that when we come back.


BROWN: Clearly, the drug crisis knows no borders, but a flash point in this crisis, as we had mentioned before, is all along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Gary Tuchman, our national correspondent, happened to be in position today at the point of entry in Nogales, Arizona, when there was a major drug bust that took place.

He is live tonight for us in Tucson, Arizona -- Gary.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Campbell, there are four U.S. states that border Mexico, but no state has more drugs seized than the state of Arizona.

And we spent the evening last night with Border Patrol agents here in Arizona.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Handcuffed to a bench in the U.S. Border Patrol station in Nogales, Arizona, this Mexican man is under arrest.

He was driving a huge semitruck through a checkpoint 30 miles north of the border. I ask him, what was in the vehicle? He says tomatoes. And he's right. His truck impounded by the Border Patrol is full of tomatoes, but this dog smells more than produce. He smells dope, and lots of it, bale after bale of marijuana, 40 bales, 908 pounds, at $800 a pound, a street value of over $720,000.

It is believed this man is doing transport work for a Mexican drug cartel, just another night for Border Patrol.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point there's not much that surprises us anymore.

TUCHMAN: About 2.8 million pounds of narcotics were seized on the border in 2008.


BROWN: And, Gary, in addition to the dogs, I guess what else are authorities doing down there to try to catch the smugglers?

TUCHMAN: Well, Campbell, the technology is a really important thing. They have lots of video cameras pointing to the border wall. They say they can see most areas here in Arizona along the border walls. They can see when people climb over, go through or go around.

They also have something very interesting. They have these X-ray trucks. And the trucks actually drive up to suspicious vehicles that are at the border checkpoints and they shine X-rays into the cars. And it's like the X-rays at the airport. You can see what is in the car, and you can see suspicious packages that may be inside the vehicles, in the engine blocks, under the seats, even in children's diapers, which happens sometime.

One thing I want to point out to you, Campbell, yesterday, we were exploring the border wall and we saw an opening in the wall. And, as part of our story, we kind of stepped into Mexico, like 10 feet into Mexico, and walked out, just to see what we saw on the other side.

We saw water, and we saw tobacco. We saw clothes where Mexicans would come over. Well, two minutes after we did that, stepped into Mexico, and stepped back out again, the Border Patrol was on the scene. One of the Border Patrol agents had a rifle pointing at him. They thought they were criminals. We told them who we are. Everything is OK now.

But they were on the scene within a couple of minutes with those very sophisticated video cameras.

BROWN: Gary Tuchman for us tonight -- Gary, thanks very much.

And Gary is going to have a lot more on "A.C. 360" at 10:00 tonight.

Other news now -- Fargo, North Dakota, on a flood watch tonight. There are fears of record high waters this weekend. We're going to have the latest pictures for you just ahead.

Also tonight, "LARRY KING LIVE," a true crime murder mystery.


BROWN: We've got an incredible story tonight of an American family abducted during a vacation in Mexico. We're going to have that for you in a moment. But first, breaking news from Chad Myers. He's in the severe weather center for us tonight -- Chad.

CHAD MYERS, CNN AMS METEOROLOGIST: Campbell, all kinds of things going on today. We have tornadoes. We have a blizzard and obviously all that flooding up there up in parts of North Dakota, Fargo now.

The new forecast is higher than the old one, now 42 feet. That is 24 feet above what they consider flood stage and they have been sandbagging all day long. The problem if you're trying to make a four-foot sandbag wall, you need 72 bags to make that pyramid. You just can't stack them up straight up or they'll fall over.

And so, I mean, these people have been trying so hard to get this thing sandbagged, just moving tons and tons of sand. It's almost one ton of sand per foot to make a four-foot wall with sandbags. You got to think about the manpower and the people power it's taking to move and to try to make these levees high enough to withstand that type of water.

And a snowstorm down to the south, down from Dodge City, almost Oklahoma City, Oklahoma City could get eight inches of snow, Amarillo and even into Colorado picking up snow. Here's a shot from Boulder, Colorado, kind of pretty if you didn't have to drive in it. But Boulder did pick up 12 inches, Westminster about 14, and parts of Larimer County, 19 inches of snow just today.

Take a deep breath and now we have tornadoes. Tornado watches and warnings all night long tonight. We had tornadoes yesterday, Magee, Mississippi, that was an EF-3, 165-mile-per-hour tornado last night at 2:00 in the morning. Twenty people hurt, nobody killed. Amazing with that big of a tornado and everyone survived it -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right, good news there. Chad Myers for us tonight. Chad, thanks very much.

MYERS: You're welcome.

BROWN: When we come back, a story of an American family caught in the crossfire of the mayhem in Mexico. Listen.


DEBRA HALL, ABDUCTED IN MEXICO: They first got in the truck and opened the backdoor. Our son said, oh, my God, please no, God. And if I live to be 100, I will always hear that tone in his voice.



BROWN: You don't have to be involved in drugs or live next to the Mexican border to be at risk. The brazen drug cartels are known to target ordinary American families like yours during vacations in Mexico. Randi Kaye has the terrifying story of this one family abducted by a gang of masked gunmen. The experience has them living in fear to this very day.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're not anyone to them.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Debra and Chris Hall don't sleep very well, though it's better now. Nightmares that used to keep them awake for days now keep them up for hours.

DEBRA HALL, ABDUCTED IN MEXICO: They first got in the truck and they opened the backdoor. Our son said, oh, my God, please, no God. And if I live to be 100, I will always hear that tone in his voice.

KAYE: Debra and her husband live near San Diego and for years since their teens, they've been driving into Mexico to vacation. But they'll never go back again, not now, not after their last trip.

(on camera): The Halls were driving along this road in Mexico just about seven miles from the U.S. border. It was a cold, foggy November night shortly before midnight when they suddenly saw flashing lights in their rear view mirror. They thought it was police so they pulled over. Within seconds, they were surrounded by ten masked gunmen, all dressed in black, pointing guns at their heads.

D. HALL: And they said, we're getting in, shut up, put your heads down. We're going to kill you.

KAYE (voice-over): The Halls were pulling a camper that was covered with race car stickers, and the gunman demanded to know where the race car was, a prize that could have been traded for cash or drugs.

(on camera): The Halls say their abductors drove them about a mile or so into the hills. They demanded jewelry including Debra's wedding ring, and they ripped the radio and navigation system out of their truck. Then they told them all to kneel face down in a ditch.

(voice-over): The gunmen covered them with a sleeping bag.

D. HALL: I thought they were going to kill us then, that they were covering us up with the sleeping bag so that they wouldn't get blood on them.

CHRIS HALL, ABDUCTED IN MEXICO: I tried to cover my daughter with my body to protect her.

KAYE (on camera): Did you talk to her?

C. HALL: Yes.

KAYE: What did you say?

C. HALL: I just kept telling her I was sorry.

DIVINIA HALL, ABDUCTED IN MEXICO: I really thought we weren't coming home. And I was kind of facing my own mortality. I was OK with the fact that I was with them and that if it was my time to go, it was my time to go but at least I was with my family and they knew that they knew I loved them and that I knew that they loved me too.

KAYE (voice-over): They were faced down in the ditch waiting to be executed. Time passed slowly, until suddenly the Halls realized they were alone. The gunmen had left in their truck. It took them two hours to walk to a town. Baja police drove them back across the border.

(on camera): The Halls had no money and no I.D. when they got to this McDonald's on the U.S. side of the border. They told me someone gave them a quarter, so they could use a payphone and call a relative to pick them up.

(voice-over): They filed a report with the San Diego police and this one with the Mexican consulate, but the men who terrorized the family were never caught. Even worse, the gunmen know where they live. They stole their driver's licenses.

Aware that cartel hit men are striking on the U.S. side of the border, they don't feel safe. It's as if fear is always stalking them, and still they feel like they lost much more.

You'll never go back?

D. HILL: No. No way. No way. And that's sad.

KAYE: The country they loved, stolen from them in the middle of the night on a Mexican highway.


KAYE: And the nightmare really hasn't ended for this family. Even though they canceled their credit cards, the numbers are still out there. A while back, someone actually charged a $2,500 dinner on one of their old credit cards. And imagine this. Last fall, Debra Hall got a call from the U.S. State Department telling her that her husband had hung himself in Mexico. She was shocked, of course.

Well it turns out someone did hang himself in Mexico and that guy had Chris Hall's driver's license in his pocket. So police thought that's who it was when they called his wife.

BROWN: Unbelievable.

KAYE: Unbelievable.

BROWN: Terrifying.

KAYE: Absolutely.

BROWN: I mean there's no escape from it.

KAYE: No, it's still happening to them.

BROWN: Is there any way to know how many Americans are being abducted, how often this is happening, where it's happening most?

KAYE: Well, we actually called the State Department to ask them that and they really don't have a solid number for us. They say that the numbers just keep changing. But it does appear that most kidnappings are happening in Arizona in the Phoenix area. Believe it or not. We talked to the mayor's office there tonight and they confirm that they have had 1,000 kidnappings in the last three years. These involve bad guys, lots of immigrants, not so much the tourists. It's really underground criminal activity, but it does involve extortion, torture, and in some cases, murder -- all the direct effect of being a border city. The mayor's spokesperson said it's "like a war in Phoenix."

They're only about 180 miles or so from the border, so it's going right to Phoenix. A thousand kidnappings.

BROWN: A thousand every year -- that's amazing.

Randi Kaye with a really powerful story. Randi, thanks very much.

KAYE: Thank you.

BROWN: In Texas, people are accusing a policeman of keeping a man away from a relative's deathbed because of a traffic violation all caught on camera.


RYAN MOATS, NFL PLAYER: My mother is dying! Right now! You're wasting my time right now.


BROWN: Police say the officer was just doing his job. You're going to see the whole thing, the whole tape when we come back.


BROWN: "LARRY KING LIVE" just minutes away with a true crime mystery tonight. Larry, who are you talking to?

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Yes. It's about the so- called smiley-faced murders. They are on our radar tonight, Campbell.

For years, they were believed to be random killings, but some New York City detectives believe they have connected the dozens of cases. Now others aren't buying it so we'll talk all about it.

And we're going to take a look at President Obama's high-tech town hall today. We'll check in with Anderson Cooper who's got breaking news on that U.S. marshal found dead in Mexico. And I know you've got an incredible story of what happened in Dallas, the death of that lady and that football player in the car. That's coming up.

And we'll be with you at the top of the hour on "LARRY KING LIVE," Campbell.

BROWN: All right, Larry. We'll see you in just a few minutes. Larry mentioned it, the cost of running a red light in Dallas, Texas, about $75. Well, last week, though, one NFL player paid a much steeper price. He lost the chance to spend one more moment with his mother-in-law before she died.

This story has ignited the debate over the policeman's judgment, complete with allegations of abuse of power. Watch and judge for yourself. As Ed Lavandera shows us, it was all captured on video.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is police officer Robert Powell's view chasing down an SUV that he just saw slowly pass through a red light. The car has flashing hazard lights turned on, and inside is NFL running back Ryan Moats. He's racing to the hospital to see his dying mother-in-law. When Moats pulls into a parking space, police say Powell draws his gun and the confrontation quickly gets heated.

POWELL: Get in there. Get in there. Let me see your hands. Get in there. Put your hands on the car.

TAMISHIA MOATS: Excuse me? My mom is dying.

POWELL: Do you understand?

RYAN MOATS: My mother in law is dying right now.

LAVANDERA: From the officer's dashboard video camera, you can hear Moats try to explain the urgency of the moment. His wife and another relative ignored the officer and go inside. The officer asked for Moats' insurance and says he is being ticketed for running a red light.

POWELL: I need your insurance.

MOATS: I don't know. I don't have insurance. Give me a ticket or whatever.

POWELL: I can't. Listen, if I can't verify you have insurance.

MOATS: My mother in law is dying! Right now!

POWELL: Listen.

MOATS: You're wasting my time.

POWELL: If I can't verify you have insurance, I'm going to tow the car. So you need to find it or I'm going to tow the car.

Stop talking, stop talking.

MOATS: Thank you, sir.

POWELL: Even if you settle down, cooperate or I can take you to jail.

MOATS: What you asked for? You asked for insurance and car registration.

POWELL: Shut your mouth.

MOATS: Here you go.

POWELL: Shut your mouth.


POWELL: You can cooperate and settle down or I can just take you to jail for running a red light.

MOATS: Go ahead.

POWELL: Is that what you want to do?

MOATS: Whatever, go ahead.

POWELL: OK. I can screw you over. I'd rather not do that. Your attitude will dictate everything that happens. And right now your attitude sucks.

MOATS: Yes, sir.

POWELL: OK. I turned my red and blues on as you were going over the bridge. This is where you stop.

MOATS: You think I'm going to stop when my wife's mother is dying?

POWELL: You are required to stop. What you are doing does not matter.

MOATS: OK, yes, sir.

LAVANDERA: Dallas police chief David Kunkle ripped his officer's handling of the situation. Powell has been put on paid leave until an internal investigation is complete. He could be fired.

DAVID KUNKLE, DALLAS POLICE CHIEF: I want to issue a personal apology and also an apology on behalf of the Dallas Police Department to the family of Jonetta Collinsworth. I am embarrassed and disappointed by the behavior of one of our police officers, Officer Robert Powell.

LAVANDERA: And listen as another police officer and even a hospital nurse tried to help get Moats inside.

SECURITY GUARD: Hey, that's the nurse. She says that the mom's dying right and she was wondering if we can get him up there before she dies.

POWELL: All right. I'm almost done.


LAVANDERA: After almost 15 minutes, Ryan Moats finally is allowed to walk away, but not in time to say goodbye to his mother-in- law. She died as Officer Powell finished writing the ticket.

(on camera): After all of that, the ticket has been dismissed and Dallas police leaders say that in their initial conversations with Officer Powell that he insists he did everything right and acted appropriately.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Dallas.


BROWN: truTV's Lisa Bloom joining us right now to talk a little bit more about this.

Lisa, look, a lot of people have very strong views on what just happened after watching that tape. But bottom line it for us, was the police officer here technically following the law?

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR, truTV's "In SESSION": Well, I think the police officer had wide discretion as they do when they stop anybody for a ticket. I mean, look, Moats did go through a red light. The police officer stopping him for going through a red light, it's what he is supposed to do. But it's all about context and it's all about the facts, Campbell.

Here, he's at the hospital. This isn't somebody who just ran a red light and said I'm going to the hospital. They are actually in the hospital, just feet away from the door, and the hospital personnel comes out to beg the police officer to let him go in and see his dying mother-in-law. I think when you take all of the facts into consideration this officer clearly mishandled the situation and abused his discretion.

BROWN: You know, you said and even the police chief said his officer screwed up. The police union has come out and said he should have used more common sense. Could Moats actually sue here? I mean, do they have a case of any kind?

BLOOM: Well, they could sue. Anybody could sue. I don't know if they really have much of a case. I don't think so.

Police officers are generally immune when they're acting within the scope of their discretion. And again, he did go through the red light. The police officer properly stopped him. He had the discretion to let him go.

I think common sense and decency would say, of course, go on in. You're at the hospital. Somebody's dying. Please go in. We'll take care of this later. He didn't do that. But I don't see -- I don't see a lawsuit prevailing here. Unfortunately, I just don't see that.

BROWN: Lisa Bloom for us tonight. Lisa, thanks very much.

BLOOM: Thank you.

BROWN: Talk about a fish out of water, a Republican congressman at a Britney Spears concert? Who is he? What was he doing there? We've got the details just ahead in our "Political Daily Briefing."

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: This is an absurd story, but it really happened. Congress's watchdog agency, the GAO, went undercover. Their goal was to find out if the people who are supposed to protect us from dangerous medical research are doing their job.

They set up a sting with fake companies. They even threw in some glowing red flags. The CEO of one fake company was actually a three- legged dog named "Trooper Dog" seen here in this picture with his Frisbee. GAO listed the address of one of the bogus companies as 1234 Phulovit Lane in Chetesville, AZ.

Another company was named Phake Medical Devices at 2232 Wounded Limb Drive in Paynesville, SC. Should have sent off a red flag, right? But the Department of Health and Human Services approved the application anyway.

Would you believe that's not all? Wait until you hear the experiment one company actually approved -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right. Joe Johns is going to have that tomorrow night. Stay with us.


BROWN: The president is packing his bags. A powerful Republican is finding religion, and another one found his way to Britney Spears. Tom Foreman has it all in our "Political Daily Briefing."

Tom, let's start with the news about President Obama's overseas trip next month. Tell us about it.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Campbell, "The Wall Street Journal" is reporting that President Obama will deliver his first major foreign policy speech in the Czech Republic capital of Prague, during his first overseas trip as president as part of the G- 20 meetings in London next week. The Prague venue promises to be a much smaller one than the president's controversial speech in Berlin during the campaign before some 200,000 people.

Now, that doesn't mean there won't be some controversy anyway. The president's visit to Prague will come just days after the Czech Republic's former prime minister made some controversial statements about Mr. Obama's economic stimulus plan saying it is "the road to hell."

Sounds like a good t-shirt, doesn't it? "The road to hell" tour 2009, Campbell.

BROWN: Probably not from the White House perspective.

FOREMAN: I guess.

BROWN: But, Tom, apparently the controversy not ending there, either. Some more trouble brewing over another presidential visit. FOREMAN: That's right, Campbell. President Obama has been asked to speak at the commencement ceremony at the University of Notre Dame on May 17. But the presidential visit has some fighting Irish seeing red. Members of the Catholic university there say the president's views on abortion and stem cell research are anti-Catholic and go against the university's teachings.

Already over 100,000 people have signed petitions opposing the visit, including the Catholic archbishop of the South Bend area who says he is boycotting the ceremony. Even former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich weighed in on the controversy via twitter saying, "It is sad to see Notre Dame invite President Obama to give the commencement address since his policies are so anti-Catholic values."

Now, Campbell, you might be wondering why Gingrich, a southern Baptist even cares about this visit. Well, according to "Newsmax," Gingrich announced that after much thought, he's decided to convert to Catholicism at a ceremony to be held on Easter Sunday. Imagine that.

BROWN: Well, well. I do want to shift gears here, because for a moment, I have to know what Britney Spears and Congressman Eric Cantor have in common.

FOREMAN: We all want to know that. For one thing, Campbell, they both use whips, kind of.

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor has drawn fire for hosting a fund-raiser at a Britney Spears concert on Monday night at the same time President Obama was holding his second primetime press conference at the White House. CNN's Dana Bash caught up with Cantor and asked him about this.


DANA BASH, CNN SR. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why did you go to the Britney Spears concert?

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R), MINORITY WHIP: I had a political event there. And, you know, it was -- it was simply because it was there to try and help the team and this is why I was there.


FOREMAN: Well, a sold-out show featuring a whip-wielding scantily-clad Spears dressed at one point in leather and fish net, which, of course, we all have in our closet.

BROWN: That's her usual ensemble.

FOREMAN: Yes. All right, Tom Foreman. Thanks very much, Tom, appreciate it.

And we'll be right back with an update on tonight's breaking weather news, floods, tornadoes, even a blizzard to tell you about. Stay with us.


BROWN: Breaking news again to tell you about. Weather disasters happening all over the country. Let's quickly go to meteorologist Chad Myers for the latest -- Chad.

MYERS: Campbell, we have been hopping here in the weather office. Even a tornado close to the ground north of Dallas near the town of Muenster (ph) in North Texas right near the Red River. The other Red River, on up into North Dakota, here are pictures.

People have been sandbagging. Now we think 2.5 million sandbags have been placed along that river in Fargo and Moorehead and places north and south.

Now this river actually flows from south to north. It sounds like the wrong way. It goes into Canada, into Lake Winnipeg, but not before it's going to do quite a bit of damage to some of the towns there as it floods.

Also now, with snowstorm. You talked about the snowstorm into parts of Colorado and also even into Kansas. It's been snowing all day in Colorado and Denver as well, stranding a lot of travelers there. Two hundred flights canceled at the airport and now that snow has moved into southeast Colorado. An awful lot of Oklahoma will see wind drifts. According to Amarillo weather service, near ten feet tall -- Campbell.

BROWN: All right. Chad Myers for us tonight. Chad, thanks.

And remember at 10:00 Eastern on "AC 360," Anderson Cooper live, reporting on the drug wars along the U.S./Mexican border. We'll see you tomorrow.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.