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CNN Live Today

Duke University Rape Controversy; Everyday Hero; Immigration Battle

Aired March 29, 2006 - 10:59   ET


I'm Daryn Kagan.

It is not punishment, or so says Duke University's president. The men's lacrosse team is suspended and there are protests on and off of Duke's campus. All of this is following allegations of gang rape.

CNN's Carol Costello has that story.


RICHARD BROADHEAD, PRESIDENT, DUKE UNIVERSITY: I have decided that future games should be suspended until there is clear resolution of the legal situation.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): That declaration from Duke University's president follows an alleged gang rape of an exotic dancer by three members of the university's lacrosse team. The question, which ones? So far, team members have refused to answer questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We want the members of the Duke lacrosse team to come clean.

COSTELLO: The woman says she and a friend were hired to dance at a private bachelor party and she was pulled into a bathroom by three men, beaten, choked and raped. The woman is black. All but one member of the team is white.

It's bringing simmering racial tensions in the city of Durham to a boil, especially in the wake of a 911 call from someone who walked by the party.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I saw them all come out like a big frat house. And me and my black girlfriend are walking by and they called us (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

COSTELLO: Forty-six players have been swabbed for DNA, and Durham's district attorney is awaiting the lab results. He says he believes a rape did occur and that soon the students will start talking.

MIKE NIFONG, DURHAM DISTRICT ATTORNEY: My guess is that some of this stonewall of silence that we have seen may tend to crumble once charges begin to come out. COSTELLO: Last night, Duke's president said he, too, was determined to get answers.

BROADHEAD: Physical coercion and sexual assault are unacceptable in any setting and will not be tolerated at Duke.

COSTELLO: Carol Costello, CNN, New York.


KAGAN: Now a story to lift your spirits. He's being called a hero, but this New York City policeman says he was just doing his job.

Officer Edgar Louisjuste saved the life of a choking baby with some quick thinking and a little help from a friend. He also made sure an ambulance was on the way for the baby's nanny. You see, she had been hit by a truck while racing to the hospital with the choking child. She was lying injured in the street but she yelled, "Save the baby." So he did.

Officer Louisjuste is with us this morning, live from New York City.

Officer, good morning.


KAGAN: Congratulations to you.

LOUISJUSTE: Thank you.

KAGAN: What's the latest on the conditions of the nanny and the baby? Do you know?

LOUISJUSTE: The last time I checked, the nanny and the baby were both doing fine.

KAGAN: That is encouraging news, indeed. What was the first sign of trouble that told you something was wrong?

LOUISJUSTE: Well, when I approached the scene, I was walking down the street, and I heard a thud. And I heard people screaming. And I saw a crowd and I went running.

As I approached the nanny with the baby, she was kind of angled down a little bit and she raised the baby and she started screaming to me, "The baby's dying! The baby's dying! Please help him!"

"Save him! Save him! The baby's dying!" At which point there was another gentleman there with a trench coat saying, "Take the baby. Take the baby. Take him to the hospital. Take him to the hospital."

I said, "Sir, wait one second." You have to adjust -- you have to assess the situation, make sure everything's OK, make sure the baby has no other injuries, like, for instance, bones sticking out, you have to make sure before you pick him you won't make matters worse. So at that time the gentleman and I both -- we at the same time picked up the baby and we started running together, and the gentleman says -- I don't remember his name right now -- says, "You want me to get a car?" "Yes, please do."

As we were running, he stopped a van and Mr. Rivera, who was a building superintendent at the scene, told me, "Let's take my vehicle." And he's a volunteer firefighter. He has a licensed siren.

And I said, "You know what/ instead of taking the regular car, let me take his car, which could get us there faster."

We jumped in Mr. Rivera's vehicle. As he's driving, I'm administering CPR to the baby because the baby was not -- was not moving. The baby was...

KAGAN: It was clear the baby was in distress.

LOUISJUSTE: The baby was in distress, correct.


LOUISJUSTE: The baby was not moving at all. The baby was limp in my arm, at which point I started feeling a little teary-eyed.

While was sitting in the back of the vehicle, I started administering CPR, which I learned in the police academy and the Marine Corps. As I'm talking to the baby, pushing the back, patting the back, open the baby's mouth, tilt him at on an angle, open the mouth to clear up the airway if there's anything lodged in the mouth or if there's any saliva so it can come out, patting the back, pushing, pushing, administering CPR, which seems like took it took forever.

KAGAN: I bet it did.

LOUISJUSTE: You know, it seemed like it took forever.

As we approached York Avenue, the baby coughed one little cough and the baby threw up in my arm blood, mucous and a yellow substance. I assume it was a yellow substance.

KAGAN: Now, I know you're a father of three, right?


KAGAN: Did it ever feel so good to have baby throw-up all over you?

LOUISJUSTE: That was not the first time. That was not the first time.

KAGAN: I know, but probably the best feeling. That was a good thing.

LOUISJUSTE: It was -- it was the best. KAGAN: Yes.

LOUISJUSTE: It was the best. It was the best.

KAGAN: And so you get to the hospital. You have had a chance to meet with the parents?

LOUISJUSTE: Yes, I did. Yes, I did.

The father showed up, he went to the baby. I stood back. I was watching, I was looking at the baby.

The baby was still breathing, the baby was not making any noise. All of a sudden, I heard the baby crying. I said that was the most beautiful sound I have ever heard in my life, which is a baby crying.


LOUISJUSTE: And the father spent time with the son, and the father came out and said, "Thank you, Officer. Thank you."

The father started hugging me and he started getting tears in his eyes. I started getting tears in my eyes.

Then the mother showed up. The mother went with the baby, spent some time. The mother came out and gave me a big hug, started crying in my arm. And my tears start coming out even stronger.

KAGAN: And as they like to say in New York City, forget about it.

LOUISJUSTE: Forget about it. It was gone.

KAGAN: It was gone.

LOUISJUSTE: It was gone.

KAGAN: It was gone.

Well, it's a story that warms our heart. And I know you say you were just doing your job, but you're a hero to us. And we thank you for taking time out of your busy day...

LOUISJUSTE: Thank you very much. Thank you.

KAGAN: ... to share this story.

Officer Edgar Louisjuste of the New York City Police Department.

Congratulations. Thank you, sir.

LOUISJUSTE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

KAGAN: Well, we're going to keep this feel-good thing working. Talk about a cliffhanger, this one is a real-life drama played out live on Canadian television. A boy and his dog somehow get stranded on a small ledge of a north Vancouver cliff. The image getting a little grainy here because darkness is setting in. But the firefighter beat the clock, plucking the boy and his dog from the perilous perch.


JOHN SUHRHOFF, FOUND PURSE: I waited here a little bit and looked around to see if somebody was coming back. It looked like there was some expensive things in there and plenty of money. And I thought somebody would be looking for it.

It wasn't mine. It wasn't mine to keep. It didn't matter how much was in there.


KAGAN: Well, that's clearly not Betty Nguyen. We need to drop that name off of the top of the screen.

On to a new story here. That's John Suhrhoff. If you're having trouble keeping up with us, let's start at the beginning.

He didn't know what he found in the bay area, but it was a Louis Vuitton purse. And there's more. The purse was loaded, a million dollars worth of diamonds, pearls and emeralds.

A Canadian tourist had put her husband in charge of the bag while she went to the restroom. As some forgetful husbands will do, he left the purse on the bench.

Suhrhoff comes along, finds the bag, turns it over to Sausalito police. The man who lost the wife's bag says Suhrhoff is his new best friend.

You think so? I think so. You don't leave the purse with the husband. That was the first mistake.

OK. It's an argument you could overhear just about anywhere, whether illegal immigrants boost the economy or rob it. We're going to look at both side ahead on CNN LIVE TODAY.


KAGAN: With all apologies to the Beatles, we can call this next story "Ticket to Deride." You see, Denise Greer (ph) was sporting an anti-Bush bumper sticker on her car when she was pulled over just outside of Atlanta. The officer said the four-letter message violated a local law against lewd decals.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: "Do you know why I stopped you?" And I said, "No, I have no idea." And he said, "You have a lewd decal on your car."


KAGAN: Greer (ph) says she's simply a nurse, not an activist. But she says she's planning to challenge the ticket in court next month. She says the law threatens free speech.

Now a story that's taking yet another strange turn. Beverly Hills police stop Mercedes Benz SLR McLaren after noticing British license plates on the car. Police say it turns out the woman driving the half-million-dollar Benz didn't have a proper driver's license either, so they impounded the car.

Come to find out the woman is married to the man accused of crashing a rare $1 million Ferrari in Malibu last month. Police say the man was speeding more than 160 miles an hour when he hit a pole. He walked away from the crash with just a cut lip. Authorities are investigating the accident and whether both exotic cars were illegally imported.

That is a southern California mystery that just keeps growing.

It looks like the government is getting tougher on fuel economy standards for certain gas guzzlers. Susan Lisovicz has the story from the New York Stock Exchange.



KAGAN: Welcome back.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. It was 20 years ago that Congress wanted to bring millions of illegal immigrants out of the shadows. But as Christine Romans reports, the reform that was supposed to discourage illegal immigration apparently did just the opposite.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): We've been here before in 1986.

ALAN SIMPSON (R), FMR. U.S. SENATOR: We're talking about the 1,800,000 people who cross our borders from 81 different nations.

ROMANS: Congress was struggling for a humane way to treat millions of people illegally in this country, to enforce our borders and crackdown on the employers who hire illegal workers.

SIMPSON: And the way it doesn't happen again is that you penalize employers who -- who knowingly hire these illegal persons.

ROMANS: Urgent, historic, comprehensive immigration reform. Or not.

Then, 1.5 to three million people were eligible for amnesty. Amnesty designed to end illegal immigration. Today, as many as 20 million people are living in this country illegally. Illegal immigration and employment of illegals are at an all-time high.

In 1986, half all illegal aliens were in California. Today, illegal immigration has spread to every corner of America.

In a 2000 report, the Immigration and Naturalization Service found that landmark 1986 immigration reform actually increased illegal immigration into the country.

PAUL DONNELLY, IMMIGRATION POLICY CONSULTANT: They were going to get their green cards. They were going to be legal. They were going to come out of shadows.

But after working here for a few years they were going to go back to Jalisco or Oaxaca, where their families were. They were not going to bring their families here because they were just here to work. That didn't prove to be true.

ROMANS: Indeed, 800,000 illegal immigrants a year flooded in as the government was handing out amnesty. And the government's own figures show that by 1997 there were another five million illegal aliens in the country.

(on camera): Many fear if history is any guide by 2026 there'll be another 50 million illegal immigrants in this country and yet another chance for an historic once-in-a-lifetime immigration reform.

Christine Romans, CNN, New York.


KAGAN: We've been hearing a lot about guest workers and guest worker programs. They're a big part of the immigration debate.

President Bush says the program would allow illegal immigrants to work in the U.S. for a few years at jobs Americans don't want to take, but he's against amnesty making illegal immigrants legal citizens.

We're going to talk with a business owner now who says that he couldn't keep his operation going without guest workers. Tom Demaline is owner of Willoway Nurseries near Cleveland, Ohio.

Tom, good morning.

TOM DEMALINE, WILLOWAY NURSERIES: Good morning. How are you?

KAGAN: I'm doing great. Tell us how the guest workers work in your business.

DEMALINE: Well, the guest workers come to us -- we're a seasonal operation, which makes it really difficult to find workers that can support their families on just nine months' employment. So we're able to bring guest workers up on the government's H2A program, and they're here from March through December. And it gives them -- they come up with legal documents, they have Mexican passports and I94s filled out, and they're up here strictly to work, and they have to go back at the end of the period. KAGAN: So you're crossing your Ts and dotting your I's. You know for a fact that the people who are working for you are guest workers and not illegal immigrants?

DEMALINE: Correct. Yes, we -- they're all documented, and we also verify Social Security numbers on local hires to make sure that we have a clean workforce.

KAGAN: And these are -- these are jobs that, as President Bush says, you believe that Americans wouldn't want to do? Why not hire locals?

DEMALINE: Well, part of the process for being in the H2A program is you have to recruit and hire local people. So we go out in the process of -- application process of bringing an H2A program in, implemented. A job order goes out with job and family services on the wire, and we actually recruit locally in the newspaper and on radio, and they also have a -- we have to do some in Texas to bring workers up from down there.

We bring in about 100 workers locally. This helps supplement our Mexican workforce. And these people come in, and we love to give them opportunities because we like to have that base of local people.

We currently employ about 175 local people also that are in management positions and mechanics and so forth. So the opportunity for some general local labor is there. But these people don't -- a lot of people don't want to do this type of work.

It's cold, it's dirty, it's wet. It's seasonal. And, of course, they go on to other things.

KAGAN: And those that come on the guest worker program you say are happy to have the work and work really hard for you?

DEMALINE: Yes. They're great. They really appreciate the work.

They also appreciate the fact that they're here legally. They don't have to live under the shadows. They've got the documentation to say that they're here.

They can go out and get a driver's license in Ohio and legally drive. It's only an annual driver's license. It has to be renewed yearly. But, you know, they have -- they can legally drive a car. So it just makes the whole system work, and they're not in the shadows.

KAGAN: And to those that say build a fence, that these guest worker programs, especially the ones that they're talking about in the Senate right now, that this is amnesty and that these people are actually felons, what would you say to those?

DEMALINE: Well, the fence -- the fence is never going to work. And (INAUDIBLE) it's only going to drive the workforce, you know, of the undocumented workers that are out there in other occupations. And part of the problem we have in the guest worker -- currently with the guest worker program is the ability to get the people through the consulate in Monterey.

It used to be when we started the program eight years ago we could take a one-day trip to Monterey, they could process, and be on a bus and be able to be up to work for us in about three days. Now they to wait for two days to get through the consulate. The consulate is understaffed and overworked, and a lot of the problems of the H2A program is broken.

So with enforcement-only action we're never going to be able to get additional workers through the -- through the array of problems in the current H2A or H2B system.

KAGAN: Tom Demaline, thanks for giving us a picture inside how this actually works inside of your business. We appreciate your time.

DEMALINE: Thank you.

KAGAN: Well, that was one perspective on the immigration issue. Now let's get another viewpoint.

Steve Eichler is the executive director of the Minuteman Project. He says the debate is all about protecting the American worker.

Steve, good morning to you.


KAGAN: I'm sure you had a chance to hear what Mr. Demaline had to say.

EICHLER: Absolutely.

KAGAN: Guest worker for him, he does hire some locals, but he says there's not enough people locally to take all of the jobs.

What would you say about how he says the guest worker program is working in his business?

EICHLER: Well, first of all, he has admitted that he does it the right way. He goes through the paperwork, he has people who come here for a temporary working time, a year I think he mentioned. And that's the right way to do it.

However, the lines are being blurred by Capitol Hill. And those lines are the words "guest worker."

What I'm talking about is people that come here illegally that do not go through the paperwork, that skirt the system and displace the American worker and will not go back home. Not seasonal workers who do it the right way, not the type of workers or the type of employers that we just heard from that owner of a nursery in Cleveland.

KAGAN: You know, you're absolutely right. There are so many layers of the immigration story. And it's easy for them to get all blurred together. That kind of gets in the way of having intelligent conversation.

What about the way the guest worker program that President Bush is promoting? What do you think about that?

EICHLER: Well, that is completely different. He is using the term "guest worker program" as an all-encompassing term that means that that is a type of stealth amnesty that's going to allow people that have been here for two, three, four years that have snuck (ph) in illegally, that have an illegal status, that have skirted the system who have decided that they don't need documents, that it would be OK for them to stay and be OK for them to be grandfathered in under some type of legislation.

I think Mr. Bush is pandering to the vote that these people will bring. Once they have legal status, they'll quickly move to citizenship status. And I think that's the real driving force behind this sham amnesty.

KAGAN: Well, a vote doesn't mean anything to him because his political career will soon come to a close. But what do you think is the solution then?

EICHLER: Well, the solution is very simple. We have a system that works. It's not broken. What's broken is the will of Capitol Hill. And I believe Capitol Hill needs to able to enforce those laws and allow those laws to function as they were designed.

There needs to be a 500 percent increase in the border patrol budget, a 500 percent increase in the budget for ICE. And we need to be able to construct the wall on the border.

Why? Well, because that wall sends a statement to the world that we are not going to accept six billion people to come here undocumented.

Can people crawl overed the wall, go around, dig underneath? Of course they can. But the statement is, the United States of America is being responsible. And this is our first step. And I believe it's a step in the right direction.

KAGAN: Steve Eichler, executive director of the Minuteman Project, thank you your time as well today.

EICHLER: Thank you for having me.

KAGAN: And this just in. We're getting word from Italy the -- that the Afghan man has -- he has arrived. The man who was persecuted in Afghanistan for converting from Islam to Christianity has now been let go from Afghanistan and has now arrived in Italy where he had been invited to come.

The premier there, Silvio Berlusconi, saying the man who converted from Islam to Christianity has now arrived in Italy. He had been in prison in Afghanistan facing a possible depth penalty.

More on that story just ahead. You've heard about drug struggling from Mexico. But what about puppies? It's the puppy pipeline, and it often leads to death and heartbreak. A closer look just ahead.

And we'll talk with a man whose unusual tribute to his late wife will take him across the country. It's a 9/11 story you won't forget coming up on CNN LIVE TODAY.


KAGAN: They were the last line of defense against the 9/11 hijackers, yet the 33 airline workers that were killed on that day are largely lost in the huge death toll. Our next guest is reminding the nation mile by mile. His 33-day bike trip will remind us of each crew member, including his wife, Michelle. She was a flight attendant on the plane that crashed into the Pentagon. Thomas Heidenberger joins me now form Washington.

Tom, good morning.


KAGAN: Yes, and I know you're going to start on the other coast in Los Angeles. Let's start by -- tell us about your wife, Michelle.

HEIDENBERGER: Michelle was the best -- my best friend, my companion, my lover, and the mother to my two children. She was best you can possibly expect of anyone. She's just great. And she's missed by so many.

KAGAN: I can tell she's still very much with us.

You, yourself, are an airline pilot, longtime airline pilot.


KAGAN: Your flying one day last year up there in the cockpit and this inspiration comes to you.

HEIDENBERGER: Right. It's rather ironic. Before my son went off to college, I was home every day, as a single parent, flying back and forth between New York and Washington. On my very first trip out of Los Angeles, it dawned on me that once you get outside of Washington, you get outside of New York, nobody really has a clue and it, as you know, the piloted, flight attendants of 9/11, 33, they were the first of the first responders. And sadly, they've become the first to be forgotten. So as I'm climbing out of Los Angeles, I just take a look out the window. It was a day exactly like 9/11, blue sky, crystal clear, and it just came to me in a flash, so to speak, why not go out and tell their stories, ride for 33 days, one day for each crew member.

KAGAN: And you're not riding alone?

HEIDENBERGER: No this is exactly as it says here, the Airline Ride Across America. And there are four other cyclists with me, all of us airline employees. If you go to the Web site,, you can see all about us, who we are, what our background is, and how each one of us were impacted or affected by that day. And also how to make donations.

KAGAN: Let's talk about the route you're going to take. You're going to start in Los Angeles, right by LAX?

HEIDENBERGER: Right. We're going to start, as a matter of fact, on April 2nd. Tomorrow I fly my last trip out of Los Angeles, and April 2nd we depart Dotweiler (ph) Beach, which was the destination of most of the flights of that day. We'll leave about 8:00 in the morning, take a trip through the arrival corridor at LAX, where the people were to be met that day, and then head back east one day at a time for the 33 crew members.

KAGAN: And so each day we'll honor a different crew member, each week will honor a different flight?

HEIDENBERGER: That is correct. The first day we're going dedicate to the captain who was on Michelle's flight, Chick Burlingame. Chick's wife, Sherry (ph), she's going to be with us driving the support vehicle.

And the last day we're going to dedicate to Michelle. Every day is dedicated to a family member. Every day we will have a group little meeting, so to speak, the five of us, or the other cyclists that join us, and we will essentially reflect and remember about that one crew member and ask him to get us through that one day.

But what's most important to remember, what drove me to this, is here we are five years later and the families have no -- some families have no place to go insofar as a memorial, a place to remember their loved ones. And I felt that now that I have the time, go ahead, do this, try to get a place for the family members so they can have a place to go and remember their loved ones. Remember and reflect on that, not that ugly day, but on the lives of those individuals.

KAGAN: And where is that memorial going to go?

HEIDENBERGER: Well, these are for all three of the 9/11 memorials. It's going to be for the memorial in Shanksville, for the World Trade Center and for the Pentagon memorial. Now I could have gone ahead and piggybacked with each one of these three memorial sites, but the message wouldn't be the same. What better way to remember the sacrifices of the 33 on that see that the money goes directly to, as one large check, to the three 9/11 memorials. That's what it's all about.

KAGAN: So the money raised will go toward that. I had a chance to talk to you in a commercial break. We're so inspired by the ride. We're going to adopt you. This show is going to adopt you and this ride, and we're going to take the ride with you, check in with you along the way, along 33 days and learn more about each of the 33 people that you are looking to honor.

HEIDENBERGER: Thank you very much. I mean, for me, this whole thing has been a very, very humbling experience. And it's now an honor to carry on for the 33. Thank you.

KAGAN: Thomas Heidenberger. Thank you. Good look. We'll see you on the other coast.

HEIDENBERGER: Thank you. We'll need it.

KAGAN: OK. Great, we'll see you in a few days. Thomas Heidenberger's the ride across America in honor of the 33 airline employees who lost their lives on 9/11. More on that just ahead on our show.

Also, you might wonder what happens to people in reality shows after the cameras stop rolling? For one family, life got even uglier. Their scary story is just ahead.


KAGAN: Well, sure he look like an ordinary 3-year-old, but you know how fast they can move. And look where he wound up. Devon Haskins' (ph) mom says she turned her back just for a second. That's all it took for her toddler to crawl through the chute that sends the prizes out of the toy machine. The Godfather's Pizza store didn't have a key, so the fire department was called in to rescue Devon. The fire chief says Devon was in no big hurry to get out. He was having fun staying in there playing with the toys. That's one's trouble.

Reality shows often hang people's dirty laundry out there for the whole world to see. This story now from reporter Paul Hertner (ph) our affiliate WJBK, tells us about a family whose reality turned into a nightmare after being featured on a popular show.


ADAM LONGAIRC, FEATURED ON "NANNY 911": Yes, I don't think it's really all that it's cracked up to be.

PAUL HERTNER (ph), WJBK REPORTER (voice-over): Michelle and Adam Longairc are hoping their 15 minutes of fame clock in somewhere closer to 10.

MICHELLE LONGAIRC, FEATURED ON "NANNY 911": He's bit me. He's pinched me immediate. He spat in my face.

HERTNER: The Longairc live in Rochester Hills with their three children, and Friday they were on "Nanny 911," the Fox show. The premise to take a family with child issues and turn things around. The Longaircs banked 20 grand for their troubles. But they say they looked bad, but the show's producers did regarded reality for entertainment.

M. LONGAIRC: Me, I never ever, ever do it again. It wasn't worth it to me.

HERTNER: And now the Longaircs are trying to ignore thousands of viewer messages turning up on the Fox Web site. Many of them blast the family, even the kids. But some viewers go beyond that. Michelle says a woman identifying herself as "Candace" called with a threat from Seattle last Saturday.

M. LONGAIRC: She was going come kidnap my children and hang me from a shower curtain.

HERTNER: The show's nanny, Stella, was not exactly a hit with the kids. They've already scribbled all over the publicity photo she left behind. But Michelle and Adam say they are using some of her lessons.

M. LONGAIRC: We don't fight as much and we do kind of work together. If he tells me to do something, I...

A. LONGAIRC: She supports me when I tell them to do things.

HERTNER: The Longaircs say if they had it to do all over again, they would pass on "Nanny 911," but they do admit they'd to show the country they've come a long way as family since they took their first dose of reality TV.


KAGAN: This just in to CNN. Word that former Liberian president Charles Taylor has -- is on a plane that has now landed back in his native Liberia. U.N. peacekeeping forces are expected to take him into custody. He will face war crime charges. He had been in Nigeria, and when Liberia put the press on to get him, he apparently was trying to flee across the border, but he was taken custody by Nigerian officials and now back in Liberia to face war crime charges.


KAGAN: Two cats and lots of puppies in today's animal adventures. First up...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's 45 pounds. You can't pick up that cat. You ain't strong enough.


KAGAN: You'd have to eat your Wheaties to be able to haul Sam around. Sam is a feline. He's furry and boy, is he fat. Records aren't kept for this sort of thing, but folks in Smyrna, Georgia, say the 45-pound tabby is the fattest house cat in the country. Nevertheless, his owner says Sam's healthy. He's even a local celebrity, making an appearance recently to help raise money for the Special Olympics.

And in Connecticut, Louis may look like a harmless kitty, but authorities say he is a hardened criminal. They've slapped him with a restraining order. Louis is accused of terrorizing a town, attacking at least six people and sending a couple to the hospital. Louis even supposedly ambushed the Avon Lady. The order confines Louis to the house. His owner is actually facing a couple of charges.

All this week, CNN is looking at the immigration debate, but more than people are being smuggled across our borders. You likely have heard about illegal drugs and money, but what about puppies?

This heartwrenching story now, from CNN's Gary Tuchman, first brought to you on "ANDERSON COOPER 360."


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the U.S.- Mexican border, amid the smuggling of human beings and drugs, another type of smuggling is taking place.

These are sick, underage puppies. All 26 of them found stuffed in two small burlap bags in the car of a puppy smuggler. Officials say they would have been sold for want ads on street corners in the U.S. Now, they're fighting for their lives -- too ill and too young.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their faces don't look much bigger than hamsters here.

TUCHMAN: Under California law, dogs can't be sold if they're under eight weeks old or sick. And the vets at the shelter say these dogs are no older than five weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't go too far Meho (ph) because you're going to fall, OK?

TUCHMAN: And underage dogs like these are sold to unsuspecting families all the time for prices well under the more than $1,000 that is often paid in a pet store.

Rosie Tercero bought a poodle mix, named Cody, for her children. After paying $400 on a street corner in Rancho Cucamonga, California, she quickly noticed he was sick.

ROSIE TERCERO, DOG OWNER: And about two weeks later, he started showing worse signs of neurological disorder. And he started twitching really bad and then I took him in and the doctor said we need to put him to sleep.

TUCHMAN: Her sister, Monica Westphaln, bought two tiny dogs for her children this past November. They both died within days.

MONICA WESTPHALN, DOG OWNER: We're now in March, but it still hurts because it was two puppies.

TUCHMAN: Lieutenant Dan De Sousa is with the San Diego County Department of Animal Services.

LT. DAN DE SOUSA, SAN DIEGO COUNTY DEPARTMENT OF ANIMAL SERVICES: You know, unfortunately it's safer than selling drugs. If you get caught smuggling puppies, you're not really going to be arrested right away in the same way. TUCHMAN (on camera): For the conscience-challenged puppy smuggler, the business motto is irresistible. Go into Mexico and you can buy purebred puppies for as little as $20 a piece. Gamble that you successfully get across this border and then sell them in the United States for a 1,000 percent markup. That is a typical scenario.

We went into Tijuana, Mexico, and asked where we could buy puppies. Using hidden cameras, my photographer and I found tiny puppies being sold out of a car.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Schnauzer Mini -- Miniature Schnauzer.

TUCHMAN: Schnauzer Miniature?

(voice-over): It is not illegal to sell dogs younger than eight weeks in Mexico. But because the people selling them know their puppies could end up in California, they may not have told us the following if they knew we had a camera.


TUCHMAN (on camera): Seven weeks. This dog is seven weeks old, he says.

(voice-over): We say good bye to these puppy peddlers and make our way to this shanty, where puppies are for sale in the yard.

Here we show the camera, and they show us puppies in a basket. They're only four weeks old -- and not much bigger than large rodents.

(on camera): Do you like dogs?

(voice-over): She says she loves her dogs and wants them to be taken care of properly, but puppies like these are prime candidates to be smuggled across the border.

James Hynes is the director of the San Ysidro, California Border Crossing -- the busiest in the U.S., where they have confiscated hundreds of puppies.

JAMES HYNES, DIRECTOR, SAN YSIDRO, CALIFORNIA BORDER CROSSING: They could be in a basket with a blanket over them. They could be in baggage. They could be in the trunk. They could be, you know, they could have tape. They could be taped up. I man, you never know what you're going to see out here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to go ahead and serve the warrant.

TUCHMAN: So in southern California, different agencies have gotten together to try to deal with the puppy smuggling problem.

With our hidden camera, we shoot a sting operation. An undercover officer with the Southeast Area Animal Control Authority answered this classified ad from a woman, alleged to have sold many underage puppies in the past. The transaction takes place and the officer signals. That's when this Los Angeles woman gets the surprise of her life, guns and handcuffs spring out and she's placed under arrest and charged with selling a dog that is too young and sick. She's with her small son and police try to comfort him as they count up $1,700 in her wallet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We received previous complaints ability her. We actually think she's a big fish.

TUCHMAN: Do you know why you were arrested?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't. I mean, they said for selling underage dogs, but they're -- they're not.

TUCHMAN: The authorities disagree after a vet looked at the dogs that he said were full of worms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're estimating their age to be six to seven weeks.

TUCHMAN: A search warrant allows authorities to go into her home where they say they find more underage puppies and more excess cash.

The suspect faces the possibility of one year in prison. Police say puppy smuggling is increasingly popular because small dogs are very trendy.

Monica Smith, though, says she just wanted a dog for her children to love.

What happened to your doggy?


TUCHMAN: And so have countless others. Smuggled across the border by people not at all consumed about the heartache they are causing.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, Tijuana, Mexico.


KAGAN: You can get a fresh perspective on the day's top stories from Anderson Cooper. Join "AC 360" weeknights at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

Just desserts or apple cobbler? Looks like a court will decide who's right, apple or apple. Don't expect the lawyers to march to this Beatle tune.


KAGAN: I'm Daryn Kagan. International news is coming up next.

Stay tuned for your world today. I'll be back in about 20 minutes with headlines with headlines from here in the U.S. I'll see you then. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)