A storied tradition of the illicit white-powder-variety drug trade may soon be history, industry sources say. The practice of field-testing product purity by opening the suitcase, pulling a switchblade, and then roughly slicing open one of the plastic-covered bundles of white powder and tasting the end of the knife is now said to be on the wane because of declining sales brought on by the recession. "The classic, macho indifference to the spillage that occurs as a result of the tightly-packed bags of white powder being nonchalantly sliced open and sampled by a lackey with a switchblade is all very well and good in a strong economy," says a top DEA agent who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But now, with so many mid and lower level dealers struggling to supplement their dwindling income through other, less lucrative illegal means, it just sends the wrong message. These drug kingpins may be stone-cold killers, but when they hear about small-time rival drug gangs resorting to carpooling on drive-by shootings, it breaks their hearts."
The agent added that the economic downturn has also led to the demise of at least one other time-honored industry preference: setting up large drug transactions at abandoned, dilapidated factories in the middle of nowhere. "Profits are down and the price of oil is going up, so the thinking is, why send a fleet of gas-guzzling SUVs to a drug buy at an abandoned factory way out in the sticks when our cities are suddenly full of suitably abandoned construction projects for which the funding has dried up?"