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Venezuela Targets Cocaine Traffickers' Airfields

U.S. officials say the amount of Colombian cocaine that passes through Venezuela has doubled since the 1990s — making the country a key way station for Colombian drug traffickers. But Venezuelans say they're doing more than ever before to stop cocaine smuggling.

The vast plains in Apure state in western Venezuela are hot and flat. With temperatures near 100 degrees, nothing even moves — except for Venezuelan demolitions experts carrying explosives, detonators, timers and cables across the scrub grass.

They're wiring a dirt airstrip, one of dozens discovered in the remote region just miles away from Colombia, where cocaine is produced and packaged for export. It is the last of 157 dirt airfields destroyed by Venezuelan forces in an operation dubbed Big Hole. The idea is to stop Colombian traffickers from flying in with loads of cocaine.

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Juan Forero
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