Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 253–273

Does illegality breed violence? Drug trafficking and state-sponsored protection rackets


DOI: 10.1007/s10611-009-9195-z

Cite this article as:
Snyder, R. & Duran-Martinez, A. Crime Law Soc Change (2009) 52: 253. doi:10.1007/s10611-009-9195-z


Illegality does not necessarily breed violence. The relationship between illicit markets and violence depends on institutions of protection. When state-sponsored protection rackets form, illicit markets can be peaceful. Conversely, the breakdown of state-sponsored protection rackets, which may result from well-meaning policy reforms intended to improve law enforcement, can lead to violence. The cases of drug trafficking in contemporary Mexico and Burma show how a focus on the emergence and breakdown of state-sponsored protection rackets helps explain variation in levels of violence both within and across illicit markets.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA