This report from USA today describes the recent sentencing of two key players in the Colombian cocaine trade and government attempts to seize some $2.1 billion of the cartel's assets. The Drug Enforcement Agency's Karen Tundy is reported somewhat optimistically as stating that "It doesn't get any bigger than today" and that the guilty pleas represented the “last nail in the coffin of the Cali cartel.”
She must either believe or pretend, like so many drug warrriors, that with the imprisonment of these particularly vicious cartel members (who have actually not been free for years) the lucrative cocaine trade will somehow dissapear and that no other group of criminals could possibly think of taking their place. The brothers took over the trade after the high profile killing of Pablo Escobar, after which similar triumphant claims were made back in 1993.
However welcome it is to see members of such a violent cartel imprisoned, the fact remains that it is drug prohibition that created the cartels in the first place and there will always be criminals lining up to sell prohibited substances if the demand - and billion dollar profits - exists. Non of these high profile busts have ever had the slightest impact on global production of cocaine - which today is cheaper and more available than ever. Theres only one way to put them out of business for good - and it doesnt involve high profile 'get tough' enforcement tactics.