The large drug seizures announced with fanfare by law enforcement authorities are having little effect on supplies on the street, with dealers simply absorbing them as a cost of doing business, federal officials say.

"Historically, a manager of drug couriers gives up one courier who is body carrying (drugs) to take your attention away from four more," said Bill Norsworthy, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent at the El Paso Intelligence Center."People walk away from a brand new aircraft after one load and consider that an expense of the trip," he said. "The same goes for boats, automobiles, campers. They expect to pay a price."

A better way to assess how the United States is doing in the war on drugs is to ignore the ballyhoo about drug busts and concentrate on the price and purity level of drugs on the street, says Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del.