In Ecuador, Cartels are Exploiting the Banana Industry to Ship Cocaine
The port city of Guayaquil sees thousands of shipments of fruit pass through daily
Men walk through a lush plantation between Ecuador's balmy Pacific coast and its majestic Andes, lopping hundreds of bunches of green bananas from groaning plants twice their height.
Workers haul the bunches to an assembly line, where the bananas are washed, weighed and plastered with stickers for European buyers. Owner Franklin Torres is monitoring all activity on a recent morning to make sure the fruit meets international beauty standards — and ever more important, is packed for shipment free of cocaine.
Torres is hyper-vigilant because Ecuador is increasingly at the confluence of two global trades: bananas and cocaine.
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