Re-engineering the Drug Business:

Sept. 11 and its new world of heightened border controls has made decentralization doubly important for international smuggling networks, be they Chinese, Colombian, Turkish or Nigerian. Ever since the big Cali and Medellin cartels were wiped out nearly a decade ago, virtually the entire narcotics trade has radically slimmed down. With the added pressure of 9/11 security measures, drug kingpins have adopted the mantra of their more enlightened corporate cousins, that size does not necessarily create efficiency, and that to survive you have to stay nimble.

Heroin is the perfect drug for the new age of small-batch manufacturing and decentralization, a high-value-added commodity where a little goes a very long way. In fact, it’s so well suited to the changing times that many cocaine traffickers are retooling their production lines to include heroin and joining the global trend toward leaner, meaner, terrorist-style operations. NY Times Magazine