December 14, 2010 6:41 AM

Venezuelan black market funnels fertilizer to coca producers

It is a long way from the cornfields of Guárico, in central Venezuela, to the cocaine labs of Colombia. But Venezuelan farmers and the drug cartels are linked in a curious way. Urea, a nitrogen-rich fertilizer vital to crops from corn to tomatoes, is also used to fertilize the coca plants that provide the raw material for cocaine. A thriving black market that diverts the fertilizer from legal crops to coca has reduced agricultural production in Venezuela.

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