Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 52, Issue 3, pp 253–273 | Cite as

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

Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Drug Trafficking Homicide Rate Criminal Organization Military Government Trafficking Organization 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Peter Andreas, Sukriti Issar, Stephen Kosack, Crystal Linkletter, Sebastián Mazzuca, and Joel Wallman for helpful suggestions on this material. Angelica Duran-Martinez’s research in Mexico in 2008 was supported by a Summer Fieldwork Fellowship from the Graduate Program in Development (GPD) at Brown University.

References

  1. 1.
    Andreas, P. (2000). Border games: Policing the US–Mexico divide. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Archer, J. E. (1999). Poaching gangs and violence: The urban–rural divide in nineteenth-century Lancashire. British Journal of Criminology, 39(1), 25–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Astorga, L. (2004). El siglo de las drogas. Mexico: Plaza & Janes.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Artz, S. (2003). La militarización de la procuraduría general de la república: Riesgos para la democracia mexicana. USMEX 2003-04 Working Paper Series.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Boucaud, A., & Boucaud, L. (1992). Burma’s golden triangle: On the trail of the opium warlords. Bangkok: Asia Books.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dal Bo, E., Dal Bo, P., & Di Tella, R. (2006). Plata o Plomo?: Bribe and punishment in a theory of political influence. American Political Science Review, 100(1), 41–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dapice, D. (1998). Development prospects for Burma: Cycles and trends. In R. I. Rotberg (Ed.), Burma: Prospects for a democratic future (pp. 153–165). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Florez, C. (2005). El estado en crisis: Crimen organizado y política: desafios para la consolidación democratica. Tesis para obtener el titulo de doctor en Ciencias Politicas y Sociales. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Gambetta, D. (1996). The Sicilian mafia: The business of private protection. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gelbard, R. S. (1998). Burma: The booming drug trade. In R. I. Rotberg (Ed.), Burma: Prospects for a democratic future (pp. 185–197). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Haggard, S., Maxfield, S., & Schneider, B. (1997). Theories of business and business–state relations. In S. Maxfield & B. Schneider (Eds.), Business and the state in developing countries (pp. 36–60). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Lintner, B. (1998). Drugs and economic growth: Ethnicity and exports. In R. I. Rotberg (Ed.), Burma: Prospects for a democratic future (pp. 165–185). Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lintner, B. (1999). Burma in revolt: Opium and insurgency since 1948. Chiang Mai, Thailand: Silkworm Books.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Linz, J. (1990). Perils of presidentialism. Journal of Democracy, 1, 51–69 (Winter).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Lupsha, P. A. (1991). Drug lords and narco-corruption: The players change but the game continues. Crime, Law and Social Change, 16, 41–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    McCoy, A. W. (1999). Lord of drug lords: One life as lesson for U.S. drug policy. Crime, Law, and Social Change, 30(4), 301–331.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Resa Nestares, C. (2003). El comercio de drogas ilegales en México: La nueva policia mexicana. Nota de Investigación 3, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. http://www.uam.es/personal_pdi/economicas/cresa/press.html. Accessed October 2008.
  18. 18.
    Reuter, P. (2008). Systemic violence in drug markets. Unpublished ms.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Schelling, T. C. 1980 [1967]. Economics and criminal enterprise. In R. Andreano & J. J. Siegfried (Eds.), The economics of crime (pp. 377–394). New York: Schenkman.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Serrano, M. (2007). Narcotrafico y gobernabilidad en México. Pensamiento Iberoamericano, 1, 251–278.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Snyder, R. (2006). Does lootable wealth breed disorder? A political economy of extraction framework. Comparative Political Studies, 39(8), 943–968.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Snyder, R., & Bhavnani, R. (2005). Diamonds, blood, and taxes: A revenue-centered framework for explaining political order. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 49(4), 563–597.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Stanley, W. (1996). The protection racket state: Elite politics, military extortion and civil war in El Salvador. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Transborder Institute. TBI Mapping Project. Retrieved October 2008 from http://www.sandiego.edu/tbi/projects/maps.php.
  25. 25.
    Warchol, G., Zupan, L., & Clack, W. (2003). Transnational criminality: An analysis of the illegal wildlife market in southern Africa. International Criminal Justice Review, 13(1), 1–27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceBrown UniversityProvidenceUSA

Personalised recommendations