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The agents, all in their 30s, were taking part in Operation Snowcap, a seven-year-old U.S. effort to dismantle cocaine networks. TIME Washington correspondent Elaine Shannon says the program -- which tries to wipe out air landing strips in the area that produces 60 percent of the world's coca leaves -- is under fire within the agency for showboating and has faced increasing budget cuts under the Clinton Administration: some top D.E.A hands "say a lot of agents have been having a good time playing war. But they think the money ought to be spent closer to home."