Source: World Press Review Article from "The Guardian", London, Nov. 28, 1997 Authors: Jeremy Lennard and Steven Ambrus Republished in World Press Review, February 1998 Intro: Colombia 's most notorious drug lords are either dead or in jail, but the multibillion- dollar drug trade is flourishing, and their successors are proving more elusive to law enforcement. Is U.S. drug policy a failure? ask the following articles from the British press. And from France, an argument in favor of decriminalization of drug use: THE LOST WAR ON DRUGS I n 1995, United States drug-enforcement officials were congratulating themselves. Miguel and Gilberto Rodriguez Orejuela, leaders of the Cali cocaine cartel -- the world's most powerful criminal organization -- were behind bars. The Call cartel had once drawn in cocaine from all over the Andean region and controlled many of the key smuggling routes north. Their domination and expansion of the South American narcotics industry was over. But the U.S. market still demands cocaine and lots of it. In the power vacuum left by the Cali cartel, other organi zations have rushed to take control of supplies. The result has been a reshuffle among Latin American mobs, the opening up of new smuggling routes, and the appearance of new players, notably the Russian mafia. While the capture of the Rodriguez Orejuelas may have helped reduce corruption, it may prove a setback in terms of stemming the flow of drugs from the Andean region. Within Colombia, the Cali cartel has spawned a series of much smaller operations with production capability but little regional clout. Enter the Mexicans, who in the past were paid by the Colombians to move their cocaine across the U.S. border. Now the Mexicans frequently take Colombian cocaine from source to point of sale and return a commission to their Colombian suppliers. Peru and Bolivia, which used to ship coca to Colombia for processing and distribution, are increasingly autonomous. Mexico suffered a setback last summer with the death of its top trafficker, Amado Carrillo Fuentes, prompting a bloody battle for power in his home city of JuBrez. But Colombian intelligence sources suggest his death has had little effect on Mexico's regional influence. Meanwhile, Colombian traffickers, unused to their subordinate role and vastly reduced profits, are seeking new partners to break the Mexican monopoly. As smuggling to the U.S. becomes increasingly convoluted and expensive, many are looking to the European market, a senior intelligence source said. In the past, the Cali cartel operated routes from Colom bia's Pacific ports to Germany, the Netherlands, and Spain. They also rode piggyback on shipments from Mexican ports and worked extensively with the Italian Mafia. Post-Cali Colombian traffickers have set up smaller-scale routes via Argentina, Brazil, and Guatemala. They have also begun to take advantage of the European connections on the Caribbean islands of Antigua, Aruba, and St. Martin. The collapse of the Soviet Union has opened up a huge narcotics market, and the Russian underworld has moved into the Caribbean to do business with the Colombians. With the Italian Mafia weakened by a crackdown on both sides of the Atlantic in the past 20 years, the Russians--many of them former KGB experts in clandestine operations--have made worrying inroads into Western Europe. According to Interpol, they dominate arms smuggling across the continent and are well placed to take a grip on the drug trade. The biggest fear of anti-narcotics agents is the emerging alliance between Colombian and Russian traffickers. The demand for heroin, which is increasing in the U.S. and skyrocketing in Eastern Europe, provides further cause for concern. As the U.S. concentrates on coca eradication in Colombia, poppy cultivation has increased rapidly, and Colombia has taken over from East Asia as chief supplier to the U.S. east coast. Heroin is worth nine times as much as cocaine, making small quantities highly profitable and removing the need for bulk shipments. Traffickers use "mules" to carry 80 percent of Colombia's heroin direct to the U.S. and Europe, in their luggage or their stomachs. T he fragmentation of the Latin American drug industry and a move toward small-scale smuggling methods has created new problems for anti-narcotics agencies around the world. It has also generated fierce criticism of U.S. policy in the region. Despite the war on drugs, the production of cocaine and heroin in the Andes has risen steadily in the past five years, while the prices of raw materials have fallen. One Colombian intelligence source likened lopping the head off the Cali cartel to taking a hammer to a blob of mercury. " A blob of mercury is a large, single mass and easy to see," he said. "Hit it with a hammer, and it splatters into tiny drops that are much more difficult to spot, but it doesn't stop being mercury."