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Teens Charged with Running Prostitution Ring; Senate Debates Gun Control

Aired April 11, 2013 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Three teenaged girls accused of running a prostitution house using social media. We're "On the Case."

The IRS says it could read your e-mails without a warrant.

And in a fight between a gun and bat, bat wins.

Plus Madonna hitting back against international claims that she is a diva.

And Republicans admit they need new faces, but apparently they include this one.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.


BALDWIN: Hour two. I'm Brooke Baldwin, beginning with breaking news here in the world of weather reports of a tornado moving right now over Alabama.


BALDWIN: Now three teenaged girls charged with a shocking crime, running a prostitution ring, enslaving young girls out of this Ottawa townhouse, luring their victims through social media, pimping them out to johns, some who raped them, others who sent them home after realizing they were sex slaves.

One of these alleged ringleaders even boasted about it on Twitter, called her victims hos, tweeting that she was -- quote, unquote -- "the female Bill Gates." The accused were just 15 and 16 at the time. Police raided that home. They found cell phones. Those cell phones had nude photos of these alleged victims and along with names and phone numbers of men willing to pay for sex. These johns recruited from online dating sites like Lavalife, Quest.

I'm joined now by former host of "America's Most Wanted" John Walsh, live from New York.

John, good to see you here. A lot of questions come to mind. Obviously, the first for me is when you think of sex slavery, I don't think of ringleaders of some group being 15- and 16-year-olds. Does that help them, I don't know, lure these younger victims, gain trust?

JOHN WALSH, FORMER HOST, "AMERICA'S MOST WANTED": I think you're right, Brooke. You know, social media can be a great tool. The Internet's a wonderful, wonderful, super information highway, but it's also a dangerous place.

So these younger gals have figured out how to exploit other girls. For example, I know this is in Canada which has problems, but the United States is the number one country that is the number one offender of sex trafficking, and we are the country that uses children for sex trafficking.

Last year, for example, the FBI took down 100 pimps around the country and they recovered over 2,000 kids that were between 13 and 14. So this is just a lower age of pimps using social networking to exploit children.

BALDWIN: But then, John, also to hear about these alleged offenders here boasting on Twitter, and again, the power of social media as you talk about that. In all of your years here, have you ever heard of something like this?

WALSH: Well, in other countries -- I have about done sex trafficking cases all over the world. And in other cases, the pimps are younger and they exploit younger children than themselves.

But this is really kind of unique, and I have got to give the police in Canada a lot of credit for going after these victims because they will be tried as juveniles, they may, you know, only pay a penalty of a couple of years, but it's a tough, uncomfortable subject, and I think cops are getting better at it. Who's not getting better at it are parents monitoring what their kids on social -- doing on social networking Web sites.

That child is your responsibility until they're 18 years old. Whether they're a victim or whether they're a pimp, somebody needs to jump in here and see what these kids are doing.

BALDWIN: Good takeaway for parents, certainly sharing the responsibility and watching their kids closely. John Walsh, thank you.

WALSH: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: President Obama called families of Newtown victims today after the Senate voted to end the filibuster against tougher gun laws, the threat of that filibuster. The Senate voted 68-31 to kick-start a major debate on gun control legislation.

The White House says today's procedural vote is a big step, but the real battle is just getting started.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have been encouraged by bipartisan progress on this very important package of proposals. There is still work to be done. This was simply, while very important, a first stage in an effort to get sensible commonsense legislation that would reduce gun violence in America while protecting Americans' Second Amendment rights signed into law.


BALDWIN: As we mentioned, this is the very beginning. Any gun control legislation the U.S. Senate might pass would face steep hurdles in the House.

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner says he will wait and see what the Senate produces.


REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Our hearts and prayers go out to the families of these victims. And I fully expect that the House will act in some way, shape, or form. But to make a blanket commitment without knowing what the underlying bill is, I think, would be irresponsible on my part. The Senate has to produce a bill.

And I have made clear if they produce a bill, we will review it and take it from there.


BALDWIN: And the NRA made one thing crystal-clear today. It will seek political retribution against lawmakers who support gun control proposals that the NRA opposes, saying this -- quote -- "Given the importance of these issues, votes on all anti-gun amendments or proposals will be considered in NRA's future candidate evaluations."

It's a question heard around the world. Is North Korea about military action or is it just testing the world? CNN has learned a Musudan missile which the U.S. believed was ready to fire when it was raised into an upright position now has been lowered.

CNN's Anna Coren is in Seoul.

And, Anna, what does the lowering mean? Was this a bluff altogether?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, who really knows, but I think it means one of two things, either that it is testing its rocket launcher and perhaps raised it and lowered it just to make sure everything is good to go.

We know that it is fueled and that perhaps a launch is imminent. That's according to the United States and also South Korean authorities, or perhaps North Korea is bluffing. You have to remember that we have had a month's worth of all that rhetoric coming out of Pyongyang now. So perhaps this is just more posturing. But I think, Brooke, the real factor in all of this is an upcoming date, a very important date as far as the North Koreans are concerned, and that is anniversary of the birth of North Korea's founder, Kim Il- Sung, who of course is Kim Jong-un's grandfather. There will be huge celebrations in Pyongyang. And you can expect if that those missiles are to be launched, it will be before then or perhaps on that day, which is the 15th of April.

BALDWIN: Anna Coren live in Seoul, Anna, thank you.

Here at home, two grandparents of these two little Florida boys who were abducted, they're speaking out today. Police say the boys' parents kidnapped them, took them on a sailboat, they headed to Cuba, and authorities then rescued the boys. They swooped in, reunited them with their grandparents, who had been given legal custody of these little boys.

The grandparents say these little guys, they have no idea what had happened.


PATRICIA HAUSER, GRANDMOTHER: They have been told that everyone heard about their sailboat trip to Cuba, another country, as they called it, and their airplane ride back to America, and that everyone wants to take their picture.

We ask that there be no mention of any events of the past week.

This is Cole and this is Chase.


BALDWIN: The boys' parents are being held without bond. They have a hearing Monday on kidnapping charges.

And you ever heard the expression here don't bring a knife to a gunfight? Well, this store -- you have to see this video.

A store owner in Chicago did something similar, instead of -- look on the left-hand side -- instead of a knife, he's got a bat. He battled bullets with a bat. But this surveillance video shows the bat was enough. Coming up next, we're talking to a former NYPD detective about the store owner's gut reaction.


BALDWIN: Heart-pounding video from inside this Chicago store. Look at this with me here.

You can see these two guys on the right-hand side. This is a souvenir shop. They're trying to rob the store. The owner, watch the left- hand side of your screen, because you're about to see him. Obviously, someone is trying to take this one guy down. Wait for the bat because these guys may be armed. But here he is wielding a bat, swinging it around. The guys is trying to -- back and forth, back and forth. Owner is fighting, comes out swinging again with this bat. It looks like a novelty bat. Doesn't even look like a full-sized bat. The owner keeps going after he's been shot. This goes on for about a minute. We're going to show you the rest shortly here.

By the way, that shop owner is going to be OK. We talked to him today and he told us he's just grateful to see another day here. This alleged gunman has been arrested.

But we wanted to bring in former NYPD detective Gil Alba in New York.

And, Gil, it's the kind of video you see and you think I don't know if I would even think to grab a bat if I have a gun in my face. As a former cop, when you watch this, what do you see?

GIL ALBA, FORMER NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT DETECTIVE: Well, certainly, no law enforcement officer is going to condone fighting with a bat when someone has a gun.

But this is a little different circumstances, because when you look at the beginning of the video, he sees these guys with the gun. There's two guys. And one guy grabs one of his customers which was a relative and says give me your money or I'm going to kill you. And he actually -- and then the other guy goes around the counter and he opens the cash register for them to take it.

But I think at that point he felt like these guys are going to shoot anyway and he had to protect himself.

BALDWIN: Obviously, his life is on the line, but did he do the right thing?

ALBA: You know, I think under the right thing under these circumstances he did -- not only did he do the right thing, but he saved himself and he saved his other customer or his other relative.

This guy was shooting at close range. Not only did he leave the store. He walked out of the store. He went by the door. But he comes back and tries to shoot the owner of the store several times. Thank God he missed him, but, you know, the store owner hits him in the head like a few times, so hopefully this guy, you know, took some kind of a beating.

BALDWIN: I want to play another piece of video. It's something actually you haven't seen. I asked my producers to pull it, because the video we just saw, it's serious. You see guns, as his life is clearly on the line.

I want to play this video because I want to file this under dumb criminal behavior. Here's a guy in his pajamas. He's thinking he's going to rob this convenience store, forgets to put the mask over his face. Comes back, pulls it down, throws something, shatters the glass, falls down as he runs. You can watch it here with me.

And I just have to wonder, these criminals, Gil, a lot of them are pretty dumb. Right?

ALBA: Oh, definitely. But even dumb criminals get away. But this guy looks drunk and he trips over everything.

BALDWIN: Drunk and dumb.

ALBA: Yes. Yes. I'm glad they got those two other guys that robbed the store. This guy is just a plain idiot.

Thank God that everything worked out for the store owner. But you know what's bad about that is that the store owner has to go back in the store. He's a store owner for 28 years. And you don't really feel comfortable anymore in your own store getting shot at. But he has to come in there every day. And it lingers on with his family and all that.

So, that's what happens with these robberies. It lasts for a long time.

BALDWIN: Thank goodness he's OK. Gil Alba, thank you very much.

ALBA: OK. Thanks for having me, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Republicans have had meetings. They have had conferences, even a party autopsy not too long ago, to determine how to move forward from the presidential election. One of the solutions as we have been reporting, rebrand the Republican Party, but to do that they're turning to a familiar face. Next, we will talk to Gloria Borger. We will ask her if the old guard can lead the GOP's new path.


BALDWIN: Republicans looking to rebrand the party, they are turning to a familiar famous, Dick Cheney.

The former vice president is in the spotlight after his dire warning on North Korea's threats. Cheney told Republican congressional leaders -- quote -- "We're in deep doo-doo."

Comedians had a field day with Cheney's remark. Here is Jimmy Fallon.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Hey, listen to this. Yesterday, Dick Cheney told the House that U.S. is in -- quote -- "deep doo-doo" with North Korea.


FALLON: Incidentally, deep doo-doo is the color of the suit I just got at Target.


(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: OK. So jokes aside, Cheney will speak to top-level Republicans meeting in California this week for strategy sessions on broadening the party's appeal.

CNN's chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, joins me from Washington.

And is it surprising for Cheney, the old guard, right? They're trying to have a new path, new party. Does that surprise you?


I think Republicans were trying to get past Dick Cheney and sort of -- don't forget, Dick Cheney's popularity when he left office was pretty bad, so, you know, you wouldn't assume that he'd be the person they would be turning to. But I do think, within a certain group of people, and as we speak, he's talking to the Republican National Committee, kind of a closed-door lunch session.

In terms of Republicans preaching to the choir, Dick Cheney is pretty good at that. So I think in terms of talking to him about foreign policy, you saw his foreign policy statement on North Korea, they probably think Dick Cheney is a decent person to listen to. And I also think, Brooke, this is a little bit about Dick Cheney getting back in the mix, trying to protect his legacy, his reputation.

He's been more outspoken, as you know, than the former president, very critical of President Obama.

BALDWIN: Very critical.

BORGER: I think he likes that. I think he likes that role.

BALDWIN: So then what is this new role that he seems to be carving out for himself?

BORGER: Critic, critic, vocal critic. And with a certain group of people, and that would be the Republican base, I think Dick Cheney has a certain amount of credibility.

And he's a person out there rallying the base. If you're looking for independent voters, if you're looking for moderates, Dick Cheney is never going to be your person, but if you're trying to say to the base, we haven't forgotten you, particularly on strong defense issues, I think -- I think Dick Cheney is your man.

But, as you know, on an issue, for example, like same-sex marriage, Dick Cheney who has a gay daughter has come out and said, you know, we ought to leave it up to the states. So on some social issues he may not be with them, but on foreign policy, he's very much a hawk, as we all know.

BALDWIN: OK. So, the party is saying, hey, base, we haven't forgotten you, but as you know, with the autopsy and everything else, they're trying to move ahead.

BORGER: Right.

BALDWIN: Gloria Borger, thank you.

BORGER: A little bit of, this a little bit of that.

BALDWIN: A little bit of everything.

Coming up next, speaking of, news on everyone and everyone, including a major recall involving more than three million cars and the war of words between Madonna and the government of Malawi.

Plus, a scientific discovery on lightning that might impact your plane ride.

And a record set today at the Masters, and, no, it has zero to do with Tiger Woods. The power block coming at you next.


BALDWIN: You know who's watching this whole gun debate play out in America? Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda already thinks America's gun control system is weak and an American Al Qaeda spokesman says it's so easy to get guns in America that wannabe terrorists should take advantage of it.


ADAM GADAHN, AL QAEDA SPOKESMAN: Let's take America as an example. America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle without a background check and most likely without having to show an identification card.

So what are you waiting for?


BALDWIN: That is al Qaeda video from 2011. And the man in the video urged sympathizers living in the U.S. to carry out terrorist acts similar to what we saw in Mumbai in 2008.

Want to bring in crime and justice correspondent Joe Johns in Washington.

Joe, we talk here. Now we know there will be the debate, right, on this compromise we heard about yesterday, the expanded background checks. Would that deal help keep these American al Qaeda sympathizers from buying compromised guns?


The compromise, Brooke, would probably not keep an al Qaeda sympathizer with a clean record from buying a gun. There are a bunch of categories of prohibited persons in the existing law. You can't get a gun if you're, say, an illegal immigrant, under indictment, a felon. You can't have been adjudicated as mentally ill, but being an al Qaeda sympathizer isn't on the list.

However, Brooke, the proposal, if made law, could make one big difference. If there is a sympathizer who actually falls into one of those prohibited categories and then goes to, say, a gun show which is actually required to do a background check under the current Senate compromise, then in that case the sale could be prevented, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK. There were a lot of ifs and maybes it sort of seemed in there.


JOHNS: Right. Absolutely.

BALDWIN: What about Democrats and Republicans? How are they approaching gun laws from a national security perspective?

JOHNS: Well, the pro-gun people have long made the case that keeping checks on firearms is a national security issue.

And there's some support for that, especially south of the border. The GAO and others have done studies suggesting guns bought without background checks can make their way into Mexico, but gun rights supporters who don't like this issue very much have probably one good argument, and that good argument essentially is that there's no evidence of terrorists getting guns and so on.

On the other hand, they have always said if criminals -- or if you end up making guns illegal, then only criminals are going to have guns. That, of course, would include terrorists. So that video that you showed has been around a couple of years, and they have attacked the assertions made in that video, pointing out that he said you can only get automatic weapons in the United States.

It's not necessarily true. You can get semiautomatic weapons in the United States pretty easily. So that debate kind of goes on, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And the debate in the Senate begins as well.

Joe Johns, thank you.

Bottom of the hour. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

Technology, sports business, health, science, showbiz news, we're hitting it all for you right now in what we call the power block, beginning with your money.

Take a look. Quick check on the markets, Dow up 58 points here with just about a half-hour until that closing bell, continuing the climb that we have really sort of seen all week long.

Let's go to Alison Kosik. She's live at the New York Stock Exchange with more great news today.

And what is it that's leading all these huge gains we keep seeing? ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That really is the money question, you know, and it really isn't one clear thing, Brooke, that is propelling stocks higher.