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CARL AZUZ: Welcome to a
new edition of CNN 10.

I'm Carl Azuz.
Happy to see you this Thursday.
There's some news expected
out of Washington DC today.

It concerns the Mueller Report,
the special investigation

by former FBI director
Robert Mueller.

It looked into alleged Russian
interference with the US

presidential election of 2016.
The Justice Department
already released a summary

of the report to Congress.
That happened last month.
It said the
investigation did not

find that the campaign
of Donald Trump

illegally conspired or
coordinated with Russia.

The Mueller Report
didn't draw a conclusion

about whether President
Trump obstructed

justice, if he
illegally interfered

with government work.
But the summary said the US
Attorney General and Deputy

Attorney General both
concluded that there

wasn't sufficient evidence
that the president

had done anything wrong.
So what's happening today?
Well, Democrats said
the four-page summary

wasn't enough.
They wanted to see
the entire Mueller

Report of more than 300 pages.
That's expected to
be released today,

though it's also expected to be
redacted, meaning parts of it

will likely be edited
or removed first.

CNN 10 is planning to follow
up on this story next week.

10 second trivia.
Which of these countries
won its independence

from Spain in 1811?
Brazil, Haiti,
Venezuela, or Jamaica?

The only one of these countries
that won its independence

from Spain is Venezuela.
Venezuela's leader is starting
to let humanitarian aid

into the country.
For years, president Nicolas
Maduro has denied that there

is a crisis in Venezuela.
But this week, his government
allowed the Red Cross to make

its first delivery there.
The United Nations
estimates that more than 20%

of Venezuelans are in desperate
need of supplies like medicine.

With its economy in shambles,
a CNN investigation just

found that illegal drug
trafficking through Venezuela

is soaring.
The country accuses
the US and Colombia

of trying to distract
attention toward Venezuela

to hide their own defeat
in the war on drugs.

But Nick Paton Walsh
found firsthand

how Venezuela is becoming
a major courier of cocaine.

NICK PATON WALSH: Below
is a cocaine superhighway,

enriching Venezuela's
corrupt elite

and bringing Coke
to American streets.

These thin lines
are secret pathways

from Colombia's
cocaine-farming heartlands

below across into
neighboring Venezuela.

From there, billions
of dollars of the drug

smuggled north in tiny planes--
US and regional
officials have told CNN--

aided by Venezuela's
army and elite.

The Colombian
military we're with

don't get any lower to stay
out of the range of traffic

and machine guns and
talk to locals mostly

through the leaflets they drop.
We've stopped drug flights
out of Colombia, he tells me,

but not from places
we don't control.

He means Venezuela,
just five miles away.

Below, they think they've
spotted a cocaine laboratory,

one of many fueling Venezuela's
role as a cocaine courier,

which a CNN
investigation has learned

is booming, just as
the country collapses.

240 tons went from Colombia
to Venezuela in 2018,

up a third in one
year, a US official

told us, which could fetch
$40 billion on US streets.

That traffic happening down
below, one possible reason,

it's alleged why so many in the
Venezuelan army and government

are reluctant to give
up on Nicolas Maduro.

They're simply making
too much money.

The trade remains mostly
secret inside Venezuela

on the other side
of the border here.

But we were able to learn more
about these illegal routes

in from recent defectors from
the Venezuelan army border

patrol and about
how their officers

ordered them to let cross
specific trucks carrying

cocaine.
For five years, this
Sergeant got those orders,

often three times a week.
INTERPRETER: The cars that
crossed both weapons and drugs

were pickups, and we
would be told the color

and make of the truck and when--
usually just after dawn or dusk.
Everything was coordinated
by the brigade commander.

He'd send a lieutenant to
tell you what needed to cross,

and this was arranged
high up above.

Those who didn't agree
were swapped out--

automatically.
NICK PATON WALSH: He
fled to here, Colombia,

when the pressure to
comply got too much,

and his unit found
themselves confined to base.

INTERPRETER: We were
locked on the base.

The general would say,
everyone must be with us.

Leave or speak against
the government,

you'll get arrested.
They had us brainwashed
with food handouts.

One night, I couldn't
take it anymore.

I went home and told my
wife, we leave for Colombia.

My son started crying and said,
Dad, what are we going to do?

But I knew if they
stayed without me,

they'd be captured
or interrogated.

NICK PATON WALSH: Venezuelan
state TV occasionally

shows how their armed forces
crack down on the trade,

here intercepting
Mexican pilots.

They have previously rejected
allegations they're actually

running the drugs and did not
respond to several requests

for comment.
But a US official has told
CNN these flights are surging.

They used to take off from
the remote hidden runways

in the southern
Venezuelan jungle,

but in the last three
years have moved north,

a US official told CNN,
to reduce flying time.

There used to be three
a week, but last year,

they were almost daily.
This year, they've seen as
many as eight in a single day,

a regional official said,
using 50 hidden runways.

CNN has seen a confidential
US radar map approximated here

that shows the sharp turn left
the planes from Venezuela take

before landing on the remote
Central American coastline,

often Honduras,
before the cocaine

travels north through
Mexico to the United States.

Honduras is where we pick up the
trail of this booming traffic

again.
On the coastline below turned
into a surreal graveyard

of narco planes.
The cocaine cargo that carry
is worth so many millions,

the plane itself
is just a fraction

in a billion-dollar deal.
So many are discarded,
like used plastic bottles,

all over the jungle, or crammed
here into one river bend.

The troops we're
with don't want to be

on camera for their safety.
Some of these have
their markings torn off

to make the job of
working exactly where

they came from even harder.
America's drug habit is where
the money, the rot all begins.

But that same open market
also supplies a key part

of the logistics here.
Well, the fire has deprived
most of this plane of kind

of distinguishing
characteristics,

but you can still see N4 there--
N, meaning this plane
originated in the United States.

Brokers, a US official tells
me, buy up dozens of old planes

at auctions in the United
States and hide their ownership

in shell companies to send them
south to start their cocaine

journey north from Venezuela.
We're getting another
N, which means

another plane that started
its days in the United States.

It's not just
traffickers in Venezuela

and the US making billions.
The entire region is in on it.
This is surely Honduras's is
biggest industry, the billions

at stake everywhere.
From this jungle road, which
is actually a hidden runway,

up to the Honduran
president's brother,

indicted last year on
trafficking charges,

which he denies.
You can't stop the planes
being sold or taking off,

one officer tells me.
So they instead just
have to try and make

landing harder by blowing
holes in the runways.

[EXPLOSION]
Just even slowing down this
multi-billion dollar trade

requires so many more
holes to be blown

in this vast expanse of jungle.
The amounts of money cocaine
brings here literally

dwarfs any effort to fight it.
Insane amounts of cash into some
villages along this coastline

that have none.
In fact, the Honduran
army tells us

traffickers flying
towards these villages

often kick their cargo overboard
when they think they're

about to be intercepted.
Each 30 kilogram bundle of
cocaine is attached to floats

and then drifts ashore.
They then pay these communities
of fishermen $150,000

for each recovered bundle.
It's a calculus for corruption
that most officials I spoke

to admit beggars belief, and
that no police or aid operation

can really hope to challenge,
one that sees the collapsing

Maduro government as
the alleged couriers,

cashing in fast in a region
of desperate deliverymen.

CARL AZUZ: At first,
this will look

like your run of the
mill pontoon boat

hanging out on a lake--
nothing really unusual
here until we zoom out.

And now you see the problem.
There was no one
to board the boat.

No lives were threatened here.
Officials believe that recent
severe storms in the area

caused the boat to break loose
and drift to the edge of a dam.

Once the weather calmed
down, wildlife officers

used an electric winch to
pull the boat back to shore.

(RAPPING) All hands on
deck to stop a ship wreck,

to keep the boat afloat,
attack to stay intact.

From bow to stern and
from port to starboard,

it's still sea-worthy of
being safely harbored.

It was on the edge,
hanging out in it deep,

one waterfall away from
being Poseidon's heap.

But thanks to some
maritime magic in a pinch,

she sails again tugged
away by a winch.

I'm your anchor Carl Azuz,
taking a bow for CNN.

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[CNN 10] April 18, 2019

1783 Folder Collection
Yukiko published on April 22, 2019
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