The World: The Sierra Madre's Amapola War

Out of the morning sun the helicopters come, flying at treetop level to avoid the treacherous downdrafts in Mexico's rugged, majestic Sierra Madre Occidental. A copter scarcely touches down before soldiers leap out, their Belgian FAL rifles at the ready. The troops belong to a 2,300-man special force drawn from the best units in the Mexican army. They are carrying out a mission, code-named "Operation Condor," that began last month. Their enemy is an empire where marijuana grows by the acre and the blood-red amapola poppy—the opium plant—flourishes.

In the U.S. alone, narcotics agents...

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