Panama -- Just Saying No

Noriega's successors have cracked down on the traffickers, but the U.S. has not yet won its war against the Latin American cartels

MANUEL ANTONIO NORIEGA'S CONviction came at an exceedingly high price. Washington's eagerness to put Noriega behind bars occasioned the controversial 1989 invasion of Panama that took the lives of 23 American soldiers and at least 500 local citizens. The seven-month, multimillion-dollar trial featured testimony from some 20 dope dealers, pilots and money launderers, much of it in exchange for reduced sentences, cash settlements and other favors. And although President Bush hailed last week's verdict as "a major victory against the drug lords," Noriega's conviction is likely to have little lasting effect on the overall war against the traffickers: cocaine producers in...

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