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Black Widows; Heroin Use Increases; Another Winter Storm Hits Northeast; Sumatra Volcano Erupts

Aired February 3, 2014 - 12:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Police say heroin, prescription drugs and used syringes were all found in actor Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment. Ahead, we're going to take a look at the alarming rise of heroin use and why the drug is now making a comeback.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And, forced to stay home during the Olympics. Russia is putting dozens of women under house arrest, fearing they may be black widow terrorists.

MALVEAUX: Plus, we are only four days away from the opening of the winter games, but some hotels not even finished yet. That's right. Some don't even have the doors or furniture. Hard to believe.

Welcome to AROUND THE WORLD. I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes. Happy Monday to everyone.

It is the final stretch now. Just four days to the start of the Winter Olympics in Russia. Very exciting.

MALVEAUX: Yes, it is. We'll be watching.

HOLMES: It's always a great event, but there's also concerns. The U.S. military putting finishing touches on plans to evacuate Americans from Sochi if necessary.

MALVEAUX: Yes. Meantime, the Russians are clamping down on suspected terrorist extremists. So-called black widows in Dagestan. They have been ordered under kind of a house arrest until after the games. Want to bring in Nick Paton Walsh who joins us from Sochi to explain all of this to us because you've got right now the athletes arriving and security at the heightened stage. Have we seen any changes over just the last couple of days?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly has been a lot harder to go on some of the roads around the Olympic village recent. You need more passes for that. And we've seen balloons, now two of them in fact, hovering above the Olympic village carrying security cameras to get like a bird's eye view of what's on the beach. That is now a row of security cameras. Thirty-seven thousand police have been pledged to come in to here. That's meant the sheer volume of manpower is kind of creating a gridlock of sorts. The real question, of course, for many people is, can you match that security, that sense of policemen wherever you turn, and the kind of joyous atmosphere people hope to have with Winter Olympics. A big challenge for the Russians, but certainly in the last few days here, we've seen a definite change in atmosphere.


HOLMES: Yes, Nick, I know that you've been out and about and looking at an area you know well, and that is around Dagestan. And this -- just look at this crackdown on potential, if you like, black widows. Explain that to us.

WALSH: We went to two towns that have been said to have quite strong links to militants. One, in fact, where the two suicide bombers that hit the railway station in Volgograd came from. We met there a number of women, some off camera, who said the same thing, police telling them to check in with them three times a week. They can't leave the town where they live until the Olympic games have finished. And the women quite open that the police fear they could be suicide bombers because most of them have a husband or a relative recently killed by Russian special forces for being a militant. They deny any harm, but, still, here's the story.


WALSH (voice-over): Far from the grandeur of Sochi's games, deep in the hills of Dagestan, Russia is desperately trying to keep a lid on something. This is the town of Bernaxt (ph), home to the suicide bombers who hit Volgograd twice last year. Many militants hailed from here and also left widows. One is Burliyat Bagavutdinova, both whose husband and son-in-law police shot dead. These widows say police, in a bid to control those they fear of future suicide bombers, have ordered them not to leave town until the Olympics are over.

BURLIYAT BAGAVUTDINOVA (through translator): It will be like house arrest. Three times a week, they will check us and ask where we are. And then, after the Olympics, it will end. They think that we will make an explosion like our sisters who have blown themselves up for one reason or another. I don't know. I am not ready to do that. There is no point. It's just their fantasy.

WALSH: She shows us her son-in-law and says nearly 100 women had similar orders. We spoke to five of them off camera. Burliyat has this to say to Olympic tourists.

BAGAVUTDINOVA: If they need to be entertained, they should come here and be entertained. But for that, we are suffering.

WALSH: The threats to Sochi emanate from Dagestan, the hot bed of Russian's Islamist insurgency, where even local mosques take heavy security measures. Here, moderate Muslims worship with state approval. But just across town, strict Selafi (ph) Muslims, a different sect of more austere values, who police sometimes accuse of radicalism, worship too.


Yet Selafi Muslims often claim of police abuse, particularly in another town we visited. WALSH (on camera): This is Gufdan (ph), where locals have given us a list of 64 people who they say have been forced by police to sign a declaration promising not to leave the region for the duration of the Sochi games.

WALSH (voice-over): Police decline to comment. There is great anger at them here.

This man tells me how he was tortured. Wires tied to his thumb and toe. And electricity passed through him.

Many say these abuses, which rose in the crackdown ahead of the Olympics, have fueled the insurgency. But in limiting ahead of Sochi's games, the movements of potentially hundreds of women and men it sees as a threat, Russia is perhaps admitting the scale of their problem.


WALSH: Now, the police wouldn't confirm or deny. Wouldn't say anything at all about these claims. The issue really being that, in many ways it makes sense, these women are open in having links to militants in the past. They say they wish no harm to the games here at all, but I'm sure the police are deeply suspicious of that potential fear, Michael.

HOLMES: All right, Nick, appreciate that. Nick Paton Walsh there in Sochi.

MALVEAUX: We were just saying, I mean, how strange that would be if it happened here in the United States. Think about it.

HOLMES: Oh, there would be outrage.

MALVEAUX: To say you have to stay home, right -


MALVEAUX: Just in case you're thinking of doing something, right?

HOLMES: Can't leave the suburbs.

MALVEAUX: I mean -- that's Russia.

HOLMES: Oh, there you go.

MALVEAUX: Also in Russia, a deadly school shooting. This rarely happens there. But authorities say a high school student killed a teacher and a police officer, held about 20 students hostage in this classroom. This happened at a school in Moscow. And state TV says that the shooter was a straight-A student. Had an issue with the geography teacher. It was not the teacher who was shot, however, or who was among the hostages. Now, the suspect was taken into custody after his father went to the school, talked him into freeing those hostages.

HOLMES: Well, he's been called one of the greatest actors of his generation. Today there is an autopsy planned for Philip Seymour Hoffman. The 46-year-old, of course, was found dead yesterday in his Greenwich Village apartment.

MALVEAUX: Investigators are telling CNN that the Oscar-winning actor was found with a needle in his arm. They also say he had close to 50 bags of what's believed to be heroin in his apartment. More than 20 used syringes, as well. Now, investigators say there were several bottles of prescription drugs that he didn't appear to have a prescription for.

HOLMES: Hoffman had recently ended a drug rehab program. He told TMZ that he had kicked a substance abuse habit for 23 years, but then recently relapsed.


DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, HLN'S "DR. DREW ON CALL": Addiction is a life- long condition, particularly when you're an opiate addict, particularly when it starts early in life and it's something that has to be treated every single day of a person's life, much the way a diabetic must take insulin. If they're not attending to it on a daily basis, they will slide back into using. And when somebody's had sustained sobriety and uses later in life, that is a very difficult population to treat.


HOLMES: A very sad story. Hoffman leaves behind three young children and a long-time partner. Hoffman, of course, won an academy award, that was for his role as Truman Capote back in 2005. He appeared in dozens of films. I think it was around 50, actually. "Charlie Wilson's War," also alongside Meryl Streep in "Doubt."

MALVEAUX: Really loved his work. I really did.

HOLMES: Oh, terrific, terrific actor.

MALVEAUX: Hoffman's death comes at a time when heroin addiction is soaring right here in the United States. Authorities say that the drug is now everywhere. It is cheap. It is potent. Evan Perez, he's joining us from Washington with a stunning report.

Evan, talk about this because I - you know, a lot of people just weren't aware of this. And you've spoken with DEA officials and drug rehab centers about this problem and how big it is.

EVAN PEREZ, JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, yes, it's a rising problem. It's something that, I think, has taken a lot of people by surprise, Suzanne. The DEA and the federal government have been tracking this for a couple of years and they say the number of users has gone up dramatically. In 2002, there were 166,000 people who reported using heroin. In 2012, the number had risen to 355,000.

Now, obviously, that's a number that's still smaller than the abuse of prescription pain pills. But the two things are linked, according to people we talked to, according to authorities, because a lot of people who start abusing prescription pain medications, when they find sometimes that they're more difficult to obtain or more expensive, switch to heroin often, Suzanne.

HOLMES: Evan, tell me this. I mean, why do officials say that there has been such an increase in recent years? One presumes availability comes into it.


PEREZ: Well, yes. It's cheap. It's become a lot more available. We're told today that you can get a dose of heroin essentially for about $6 to $10 on the streets in New York, in any big city on the East Coast. It's -- like you said, it's plentiful. The number of seizures in the southwestern border have gone up triple according to the DEA. It's also become a lot more potent. A lot of very increased potency has been showing up on the streets. And it's also cut with a lot of other things. Right now, recently, for instance, in Pennsylvania, they found that the drug was cut with fentanyl, which is a sort of a sedative. And 22 people were killed in overdoses in just one week in a six- county region in western Pennsylvania, Michael.

MALVEAUX: And, Evan, I imagine here too that this is something - I mean it was a surprise to some of us, but to others, certainly, they're very much aware that this is a big problem. What are they doing to address the large number of people who are addicted?

PEREZ: Well, you know, that's actually one of the big questions is how you can treat this problem. In big cities, where this has been showing up, in New York, for instance, where Philip Seymour Hoffman's death has become the center of news, I think a lot of authorities are now finding that this is a good way to draw attention to what is a big problem. Our producer, Shimon Prokupecz, who has been on the scene there, told us that they found about 50 of these glassines in Philip Seymour Hoffman's apartment. That's a lot of the drug. And it shows you how easily available it is. And so authorities are trying to draw attention to the problem, hoping people can understand that this is something that needs to be taken seriously. And not only that, but the potency of the drug is very, very dangerous, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Yes, Evan, thank you so much. I appreciate it.


MALVEAUX: You know, it really is surprising when we learn about this.

HOLMES: It is. And the DEA also reporting the average age for first time users, around 15 years of age.


HOLMES: Yes, stunning statistics.

MALVEAUX: Starting - starting young.


MALVEAUX: Here's more of what we're working on for AROUND THE WORLD. This is burning ash reaching up to 700 degrees, racing down the side of a volcano in Indonesia. Well, now, entire villages covered in debris.

HOLMES: Look at those pictures there. My goodness, me.

MALVEAUX: It's amazing.


If you stayed at a hotel last year, your credit or debit card -- yes, that story again -- may have been hacked. We'll tell you where and how when we come back.

MALVEAUX: Plus, this fisherman says he was lost at sea for 13 months, more than a year, surviving on birds and rain water. But there are a lot of questions about, how could he have lived so long on a boat?

HOLMES: Looks pretty well, really.





Seattle Seahawks fans who went to New York for the Super Bowl may find getting home a bit of a challenge today.

Why? Well, more than 1,400 flights already canceled today, because of, yes, another large winter storm hammering the Northeast.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CO-ANCHOR: Can you believe that?

HOLMES: Yeah. Again.

MALVEAUX: It's like "Groundhog's Day." The groundhog did say it was going to be a long winter.

Philadelphia, the schools have been closed. At least six inches of snow expected today in New York city.

Chad Myers, live in New York, of course, in the midst of all of this. Chad, it's like "Groundhog's Day."

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All over again, exactly.

It's very heavy snow. There's a lot of water in this snow. And I asked my wife, she just walked over here, and I said was it slippery? She said no, it's like walking on a Slurpee.

Now, I don't know whether she has ever walked on a Slurpee or not or that was just something she thought about, but it really is just so full of water, get your gloves completely wet. Looking over here, though, it makes a beautiful scene. It's not windy, so the snow is sticking to the trees.

That's some good news, some bad news, because of the snow, could get those trees quite heavy and break some of those branches and we could lose power, probably not so much in the city, but certainly out in the suburbs.

Very pretty conditions here, but now 450 flights alone in the New York City metro closed or canceled today, because of this.

The rest of the numbers you talk about is the backlog. Because this plane doesn't get to L.A., the L.A. plane doesn't get someplace else. That's how we're almost up to 2,000 flights here, and if we're not, we will be very, very quickly.

The issue is we have all these people from the Super Bowl that want to go home today, and that's about 60,000 seats now that didn't fly out of here, all those people now looking for new hotel rooms, because they're not going to get out tonight.

Every hotel is getting booked again. All the flights later on tonight are going to be canceled. It's just one thing after another.

Many airports now reporting three- to four-hour delays. So if you're not canceled, you can sit there for four extra hours and hope that your flight takes off until they cancel it later on this afternoon.

HOLMES: Yeah, if you're a Seahawks fan, just keep on partying. If you're a Broncos fan, you might want to start to walk.

MYERS: A 48-hour party. Exactly.

HOLMES: Yeah. Really. Oh, boy.

Get inside, will you? You look cold, Chad.

MALVEAUX: All right. Keep us posted, Chad.

MYERS: I will.


And you know, we're actually getting an idea just how expensive it is to cancel those flights, all those weather-related flights cancellations, for the passengers, as well as airlines.

Flyers lost out on $2.5 billion. That was just last month. Airlines were out between $75 and $150 million.

That's according to this new report from a data and software company that actually specializes in airline operations.

HOLMES: JetBlue got the worst of it, by the way.

That's mainly because 45 percent of its flights go either through Boston or New York, so every time we say the words northeast storm, they get slammed worse than everyone. Yeah.

MALVEAUX: And a grim search-and-recovery operation, now under way, we're going to tell you about a deadly volcanic eruption in Indonesia.

That's up next.



HOLMES: Welcome back.

To Indonesia, where search teams are trying to recover the bodies of 15 people that are known to have died after a huge volcanic eruption.

This happened on a mountain in north Sumatra on Saturday.

Plumes of ash, up to 700-degrees hot, spewed more than a mile into the sky, then they raced down the slope in just two to three minutes.

MALVEAUX: Saima Mohsin has the latest on this developing story.

SAIMA MOHSIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Search-and-rescue teams have finally managed to get into the area where 15 people were killed around Mount Sinabung this weekend.

Just to explain to you what exactly happened, a cloud of ash came spewing out of this active volcano at a speed of 100-kilometers-an- hour. That's around 60-miles-per-hour.

And the temperature, 1,000 Fahrenheit, around 700 degrees Celsius, killing the people instantly.

It's not known why they were there. Some of them were students. Others were villagers, apparently trying to get back to their homes.

Now, more than 30,000 people have been forced to evacuate the area, living in emergency evacuation centers for months now.

It's not known when they'll be able to get back, because of the unpredictability and volatility of this active volcano.

Back to you, Suzanne and Michael.

MALVEAUX: Thank you.

Other stories making news AROUND THE WORLD right now.

Ukraine's embattled leader is back on the job today after a four-day sick leave. Viktor Yanukovych left his office Thursday for what was called acute respiratory disease.


He's been facing months of intense, sometimes violent. public protests over proposed economic policies that would tie Ukraine closer to Russia instead of an earlier proposal that would put them closer to Europe.

The public seems to prefer Europe.

MALVEAUX: Russia's foreign ministry came to Yanukovych's defense today.

It issued a warning to Ukrainian protesters to stop their -- what they call their "provocative" steps aimed at forcing him to resign.

HOLMES: In Thailand, weekend elections turning violent, this started after anti-government protesters who want the prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, out, blocked the voting booths, prevented people from voting, and even some candidates from registering.

MALVEAUX: On Saturday, a pro-government supporter was shot. The opposition party boycotted the election.

And the White House has just announced President Obama will be traveling to Saudi Arabia. That is next month.

He's going to be meeting with King Abdullah to talk about strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia.

HOLMES: They plan to discuss regional security, and, boy, isn't there a lot of that in the area, also, generally, the Middle East peace process, also countering violent extremism.

MALVEAUX: And he was supposed to be in the limelight for New Jersey, hosting the Super Bowl, but governor Chris Christie playing defense as people start turning over documents in the scandal surrounding his office.

HOLMES: Also coming up, anyone who stayed at a Marriott last year should probably check their credit card statement. The chain appears to be the latest victim of hackers.

We're going to have a live report on that, also, when we come back.



MALVEAUX: In New Jersey, today is the deadline to turn over documents that could shed some new light on the bridge scandal surrounding Governor Chris Christie.

Now, lawmakers subpoenaed documents in their probe of September's lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, and it was the closings that caused a massive traffic jam for days.

Emails, however, suggested that it was political payback against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee.

HOLMES: Some officials have been now granted extensions to gather more documents.

Christie, for his part, he got booed at a Super Bowl event.

But Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said he should not step down as head of the Republican Governors' Association.