Narconomics

Narconomics

Tom Wainwright

Spotters fly up and down in light aircraft, looking out for the telltale terraces that show that coca production is under way. Farmers have gotten better at hiding their crops, but the authorities are now better at seeking them out. Nowadays the spotters’ planes are helped by satellites, which take detailed images of the countryside for experts to pore over to try to tell the difference between legal plantations of bananas or coffee and illicit ones of coca. Armed with these maps, soldiers are sent to destroy the crops by hand. In Colombia, some of the eradication has been done by spraying the farmland with weed killer from light aircraft.

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