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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

As we drive from the coastal Venezuelan city of Maracaibo toward Colombia, we see dozens of trucks, some of them escorted by Venezuelan National Guard soldiers.

They've come from Colombia — laden with illegal contraband — even though the border is officially closed.

Regular people or smugglers who don't have deals with the military have to brave what my driver calls la carretera sin ley, or the lawless road.

We stop at a crowded strip mall where a group of smugglers is sitting. One of them agrees to talk, but he also doesn't want his name used.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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