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CNN 10

How AI Can Help Detect Illegal Drugs Coming Into the U.S.; Border Officers Take to Sea and Sky; NYC Migrant Student Becomes Chess Prodigy After Just One Year of Playing. Aired 4-4:10a ET

Aired February 22, 2024 - 04:00   ET


OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. And welcome to CNN 10. I`m Omar Jimenez, not Coy Wire, though, I will settle for the fact that I

have hair, sorry, Coy. I`m just filling in for today and tomorrow, so don`t worry.

In today`s show, we`re going to explore border security, but not in the way you might expect. In the news lately, the focus has been on the U.S.

border, illegal immigration and how Congress may or may not fix things. But U.S. officials do more than just secure checkpoints. And our first story

CNN`s Josh Campbell goes behind the scenes with U.S. Customs and Border Protection as they use AI artificial intelligence to detect drugs, being

smuggled into the country.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In the short time we`ve been here, this packet of fentanyl was seized in the mail. The sender of this envelope now

under federal investigation.

(Voice-over): The deadly drug detected by Artificial Intelligence, its street value --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: About $100,000 worth of fentanyl.

CAMPBELL (on camera): Every piece of mail, every package entering the United States is scanned by CBP. Right now, that`s done by X-ray with

officers staring at images across their screen, if they become suspicious, they open the package up to determine whether a threat is inside.

(Voice-over): But A.I. could revolutionize the way U.S. Customs and Border Protection does battle against smugglers.

(On camera): We`re here near Los Angeles International Airport in a facility that processes over 240 million packages every single year.

Officers seizing numerous items including counterfeit merchandise, illegal food as well as precursors to the deadly drug, fentanyl.

Now, in order to help stop America`s fentanyl epidemic, officers are now relying on Artificial Intelligence like this system. A package is sent

through this main system called IDSS, this is similar to what you might find in a hospital or at an airport. A 3D image is taken, and then sent to

what`s called the student. This is the halo system, artificial intelligence at work. Unlike old technologies such as x-rays, this system is constantly

learning and teaching itself.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): The mission of this AI system, part of a CBP pilot program, is to identify patterns, how smugglers are concealing fentanyl in

order to evade detection.

(On camera): At the end of the whole process, this system will get a grade. After scanning 10,000 images, an officer will look to determine how well

the system actually did. Determine whether this is the type of machine that CBP might want to roll out to its multiple facilities across the nation.

(Voice-over): This pilot program is currently being used for cargo arriving by air to LAX. CBP hopes to expand the use of AI to other critical points

of entry into the United States.

One looming question with well-funded drug cartels known to adopt advanced technology of their own, how long will AI provide U.S. authorities a

cutting-edge advantage to stay ahead of the threat?


JIMENEZ: So when we think about border security, we`re usually thinking of efforts on land, but waterways also need focus too. Our Senior National

Correspondent, David Culver gets a rare inside look at how U.S. border agents defend the Pacific ocean from a rising trend in smuggling migrants

and drugs.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hours before the sun`s up over San Diego, we get on board for our rare look at border security from

the Pacific Ocean.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It`s going to be four to five-foot seas out there.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we`re going to be getting tossed around.

CULVER: Suspected migrant smugglers are about to make a drop.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 200 yards at the door right now.

CULVER: Suddenly we`re zero to 60. On the water, that is fast and cold.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can`t go through the kelp. We`ll get stuck.

CULVER: This is a side of U.S. Customs and Border Protection you don`t often see and for good reason. With border patrol on land, these agents

handle the skies and seas. They`re part of AMO, Air and Marine Operations.

KURT NAGEL, MARINE INTERDICTION AGENT: It`s going to be just off our starboard beam heading right for the beach.

CULVER: And what does it sound like, a boat or jet ski.

NAGEL: They don`t have a visual of it. So all they know is that there`s a radar contact eastbound, right behind us back here.

CULVER: Headed our way. So they kill the lights and we wait in the dark.

NAGEL: The pursuit`s coming right to us right now.

CULVER: Coming this way?

NAGEL: Yeah.

CULVER: After a few minutes, still nothing. Seems the suspected smuggler on a jet ski turned back.

NAGEL: There`s a lot of them coming so we`re more constantly busy.

CULVER: In the past year, the agency has become increasingly deadly, but like drug trafficking, migrant smuggling is a business.

NAGEL: They`re reckless with their lives. They`re reckless with other people`s lives.

CULVER: Do we know, Kurt, are they -- are they connected often to cartels? Do we know their background?

NAGEL: At a smaller level, yes. This is all cartel-driven.

CULVER: They often launch in the dark of night, leaving from various points along the Mexican coast. Once they crossed the maritime boundary line, the

ocean`s border separating the U.S. and Mexico, the smugglers usually head to the beaches of San Diego County where they drop off the migrants.

Though, more recently, they`ve ended up cruising even farther north to places like Malibu.

Officials tell us the number of incidents along the southwest coast is up threefold over the last five years. And they`ve migrants like these often

pay tens of thousands of dollars for a one-way ticket on the open ocean.

(On camera): And you`ll have people, Captain, actually tried to swim?

CAPT. JIM SPITTER, U.S. COAST GUARD, SAN DIEGO SECTOR: They often do it at night and under fog. And sadly is tragic, some of them don`t always make


CULVER: That`s where the Coast Guard comes in. We joined them on a deterrence patrol positioned just north of the maritime boundary line with

a view of the southern border I`d never seen before.

(On camera): And then right there, that`s all Mexico.

SPITTER: Pretty much right in front of us, yeah, it`s Mexico.

CULVER: The Coast Guard here focused primarily on keeping folks alive. To do that, you need to keep the lines of communication open.

SPITTER: There really are no egos amongst the different organizations. We all speak on the same frequency so when you -- when somebody gets notified

and were all notified at the same time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of your 350, 28 nautical miles, that`s where he`s at -- off your 350.

CULVER: That frequency also shared by the CBP`s air assets, watching and tracking from above.

SEAN RANDICH, CBP AGENT: Yeah, David, so when we do detect a target, I hook it so the system is now tracking it. And we had we get everything down

here, right? The coordinates, where it`s at, how fast it`s going.

CULVER: That information relayed to crews on land and sea.

BRANDON TUCKER, DIRECTOR, AIR AND MARINE OPERATIONS: They have to be prepared for anything on the water. And you`re doing that at night, pitch

black, six-foot seas. It can be very challenging.

CULVERS: Moments like these where boats filled with migrants rushed towards the shore line a near nightly occurrence now.

TUCKER: Over the last three years, we`ve seen an exponential increase in maritime smuggling. They don`t understand fully the peril that these

smugglers are putting them in. It`s the callous nature of their operations and how they just don`t care about human life.


JIMENEZ: Ten second trivia time.

Where was the game of chess created? China, India, Russia, or Egypt.

If you said India, checkmate, you got it. Chess originated in Sixth Century India during the Gupta dynasty. The game today is now played in more than

170 countries.

And now let`s crown a story that as Coy would say deserves a 10 out of 10. We want to highlight a young, talented migrant girl from Columbia who has

found a home here in New York as a nationally-ranked chess player. Katie Vasquez with NETTV shares her journey.


KATIE VASQUEZ, NET TV CORRESPONDENT: Watching Mariangel Vargas play chess. You might be surprised to learn she`s only been playing for a year.

MARIANGEL VARGAS CHESS PLAYER: I feel, like, nervous and the same time, like, when you play, you feel like you`re very focus in the game.

VASQUEZ: The 12-year-old grew up in Columbia where she says chess isn`t common. But something her family was familiar with was gang violence.

ALEXANDRA GOMEZ, MOTHER (through translation): They forced me to kneel and I refused. They threw me, hit me, and look out their weapons and put them

to my head.

VASQUEZ: In October, 2022, Mariangel`s parents decided the danger was too much and made the brutal journey traveling through the desert in Mexico to

come to the U.S. As Mariangel was adjusting to her new life in New York, she saw a flyer at her school, PS11, advertising Spanish chess lessons. The

charity in charge, the gift of chess had noticed the influx of Spanish- speaking migrants and founder Russell Makofsky wanted to help.

RUSSELL MAKOFSKY, FOUNDER, THE GIFT OF CHESS: So it`s like a curriculum in itself with incredible educational benefit. And then once you learn the

game, you can begin interact with your classmates that speak English because you`re sharing that, that, that language, that universal language

of the game of chess.

VASQUEZ: Quickly, Russell noticed Mariangel becoming a master.

MAKOFSKY: She`s currently ranked in the top 50 of players, girls her age in the United States.

VASQUEZ: Her father says she`s achieving the dream that they came here for.


JIMENEZ: All right, everyone. We hope you enjoyed our show today. We know border security can sometimes be a divisive topic, but we hope you learn

something new that you can use in your conversations at school and beyond.

Now it`s the best part of the show. Shout out time. We`re going to go to Shepherd Pratt School in Rockville, Maryland. Thank you for watching. And

also special shout out goes to Haven Middle School in Evanston, Illinois. Shout out Evanston. I went to college in Northwestern which is also in


Thanks for hanging out everyone. I`m Omar Jimenez. It was a pleasure being with you this morning. I`m going to be right back here tomorrow to finish

out this week. Have a great Thursday.