A Drug Smuggler's Paradise Corruption and vast stretches of jungle and shoreline have made Central America a drug-smuggler's paradise. NPR's John Burnett has the first of three reports.

A Drug Smuggler's Paradise

A Drug Smuggler's Paradise

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U.S. officials estimate up to three-quarters of the cocaine that enters through the country's southern border passes through Central America, by land or sea.

The corridor has become a smuggler's paradise: under-funded and often corrupt security forces, scant U.S. counter-drug operations, vast stretches of lawless jungle and shoreline, and a compliant population.

In the first of a three-part series, NPR's John Burnett reports that the countries once known as banana republics are fast becoming "cocaine republics."

A U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter sits on clandestine landing strip in Guatemala's Petén region, the site of a crash-landing by a cocaine-hauling plane from Colombia. U.S. Embassy-Guatemala hide caption

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U.S. Embassy-Guatemala