The architects of a sophisticated drug pipeline that prosecutors say smuggled millions of dollars in cocaine into the Albany area were creative and disciplined — but their business plan was far from new, says the Albany Times Union. The newspaper says New York City drug traffickers follow the Thruway north like Forty-niners to the Gold Rush. Drawn by higher profit margins, less-saturated markets and the smaller police presence in upstate cities and towns, alleged dealers like the 10 swept up in raids last week illustrate the economics that police say drive the upstate drug trade. “For a short ride in the country, they can double or triple their money depending on the drug and the purity,” said Matt Barnes of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
“It’s expensive to keep it prohibited,” but estimates of the costs of legalizing cocaine are based on questionble assumptions, said Rosalie Pacula, an economist and co-director of the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. Nationally, profit margins for cocaine dealing have declined significantly since the 1980s, said Pacula. She said most of the price is dictated by the risk in producing and selling it, not the cost. Since 1997, cocaine use appears to have been in a soft decline. While targeted sweeps such as this week’s raids can help, they often create vacuums for other suppliers to move in without dampening the supply, Pacula said.