Ahh, so that’s why cocaine is so high these days…
[Excerpt: Three other American contractors on a surveillance mission were captured Feb. 4 by the FARC when their plane crash landed after experiencing engine trouble. The rebels executed a fourth American and a Colombian soldier aboard the Cessna plane.]

http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/ap20030921_1460.html

U.S. Drug-Spraying Crop Duster Crashes in Eastern Colombia, Where Rebels Fighting for Control
The Associated Press
BOGOTA, Colombia Sept. 21 —
A U.S. plane crashed while fumigating cocaine-producing crops in volatile northern Colombia, killing the American pilot, the army said.

Sunday’s crash in Catatumbo, an area filled with coca crops, appeared to be an accident and not a rebel attack, as officials had believed earlier.

“Initially, there was talk of the plane being hit, but then those who went to the site said there were no (bullet holes),” Defense Minister Martha Lucia Ramirez told reporters. “We are not sure what caused the accident.”

Army Gen. Jairo Duvan Pineda told RCN Television the weather was bad at the time of the crash.

The pilot was a U.S. citizen originally from Costa Rica. Officials did not release his identity or say where he lived.

Rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, are fighting for control of Catatumbo against the army, another rebel group and outlawed paramilitary fighters.

Colombia is the world’s biggest producer of cocaine, and the coca crops generate huge profits for the illegal groups.

The U.S. government has given billions of dollars in aid and training to the Colombian military to support its nearly four-decade war against leftist rebels and to wipe out cocaine and heroin production.

Other contract workers have been killed while participating in Colombia’s war against drugs. On April 7, another U.S. State Department drug-fumigation plane crashed in southwest Colombia, killing the American pilot.

Three other American contractors on a surveillance mission were captured Feb. 4 by the FARC when their plane crash landed after experiencing engine trouble. The rebels executed a fourth American and a Colombian soldier aboard the Cessna plane.

Three other Americans were killed when their plane crashed and burned in southern Colombia on March 25 while searching for the captured trio.

Crop-dusting planes fumigate the coca crops with herbicide. The planes must fly 100 feet above ground to effectively fumigate, making them vulnerable to rebel fire. Military helicopters generally accompany the drug-spraying missions.

The massive U.S.-financed fumigation campaign of coca has hit Colombia’s illicit drug industry hard, cutting coca crop land by one-third in seven months, according to a recent U.N. report.