Bogota, Colombia One night a local journalist and this reporter picked our way through uneven inner-city slum streets in Bogota, 8,000 feet above the sea, within sight of the lights of the Hilton Hotel.
Maria, a weary and expectant mother, motioned us into a dark room with a tin sheet as a roof. We followed her to a small, untidy kitchen littered with plates of half-eaten food, and into a bedroom where a TV set blared.
The local journalist asked for a paper twist - half a gram - of bazuco, whitish cocaine powder before it is refined into hydrochloride crystals.
Maria rummaged in a drawer and brought out a small packet. She took a 500 peso note (about $6).
She and her husband Jose have been dealing in bazuco for years. There is now an epidemic of it among children as young as eight.
Children and adults alike tip out the powder, check its quality, remove the tobacco from an ordinary cigarette, mix tobacco and bazuco, stuff it back in the cigarette and light up.
Yes, Maria said, local police were starting to crack down on dealers. President Belisario Betancur's wife had been making speeches about drug abuse. On the next street an entire family had been taken away.
It was harder to pay off friendly policemen now.
Jose knew it was illegal, dangerous, and corrupting to handle bazuco. But how else could he earn so much money so quickly?
Two small children in matching gray tracksuits ran in from the street - a boy of 5 and a girl of 9. Deftly, the girl put away groceries she had bought, tipped the change into a dish, ate a banana, and jumped onto her parents' bed clutching a large teddy bear to watch TV.
Her brother climbed up beside her, for all the world like any other family around the world - except that their parents pay the bills by dealing in dope. Rome
Out on the Aegean Sea, east of the Italian coast, Capt. Horst Kressman began to panic. In the hold of his 100-ton motor vessel M.V. Doris were 22 tons of hashish pressed into brown bricks, originally from Beirut and loaded in Tripoli. On the streets of Europe they were worth almost $200 million. He had sailed into the Aegean 20 miles off Cyprus and was headed toward the Adriatic.
He and a Canadian of Lebanese descent, who still lives in Montreal, had earlier traveled Europe setting up a complex, clandestine chain of buyers from Athens to Abu Dhabi, Birmingham, Zurich, Amsterdam, and Stockholm.
Now he was to pick up a load of heroin at sea, dock in Italy and Spain, and unload his cargo into trucks.
In fact, Canadian drug squad officers had trailed the two men. The M.V. Doris was being watched.
Suddenly, Kressman, a West German, ordered his crew to toss the 22 tons of hash overboard. The contraband floated for a while, and Greek police spotted it.
Under interrogation, Kressman agreed to cooperate in return for a lighter sentence.
Greek police then seized another motor vessel, the Ca-Jeta, captained by Nicola di Chiara from Naples. Di Chiara is linked to the Camorra Mafia. The Ca-Jeta was owned by Felice Alfano, said to be a Naples drug runner closely tied to the Mafia ''family'' of Rafaelle Cutolo.
On board the Ca-Jeta: 30 tons of pure heroin worth close to $50 million.
Kressman went on trial in Greece. In August of this year an Athens judge sentenced him to 12 years in jail. The di Chiara case has been transferred from Corfu to Athens.
A case against the Lebanese in Montreal is still under investigation. London
Peter John Newall looked like a pillar of the community. He was a former policeman in Saskatchewan and a justice of the peace in British Columbia.
Several years ago he, his wife, Frances Lorraine, and his son, Peter Cameron Newall, went to live in Salzburg, Austria. The son, fluent in Arabic and nicknamed ''Ali'' to distinguish himself from his father (who was called ''Baba'') contacted sources in Brussels, the Netherlands, Munich, Paris, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Stockholm, Italy, North Dakota, Canada, and New Zealand.
Canadian police had listened in.
Ninety-eight kilograms of hash oil and 70 kilos of hash solids from Lebanon worth around $2 million on the street were wrapped in plastic packages, strung from a single length of rope, and stowed in the concave bottom of a 20-foot powerboat suitable for waterskiing.
They were concealed by a new coating of fiberglass, and mothballs were thrown in to put off customs sniffer dogs. The idea was to retrieve the dope by pulling on the rope from a hole hidden in the bow.
The boat was loaded onto a trailer pulled by a jeep. All went onto a freighter in Cyprus bound for London.
British police seized the lot in 1981. US Drug Enforcement Agency officials picked up another 20 kilos of hash oil in North Dakota and 70 kilos of hash solids, worth around $700,000. They arrested four Lebanese - and a US attorney. Cyprus police dug up 78 pounds of hash worth around $200,000 in front of a holiday cottage the Newalls had rented.
Their Salzburg idyll over, the Newalls were extradited by the Austrian police. This year a British Columbia court sentenced ''Ali'' to 12 years in jail. ''Baba'' and his wife received 10 years each.
Details on the Mafia and other major traffickers will appear Dec. 21.m