Advertisement

Trends in Organized Crime

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 138–155 | Cite as

Why did Mexico become so violent? A self-reinforcing violent equilibrium caused by competition and enforcement

  • Viridiana Rios
Article

Abstract

This article explains why homicides related to drug-trafficking operations in Mexico have recently increased by exploring the mechanisms through which this type of violence tends to escalate. It is shown that drug-related violence can be understood as the result of two factors: (a) homicides caused by traffickers battling to take control of a competitive market, and (b) casualties and arrests generated by law enforcement operations against traffickers. Both sources of violence interact causing Mexico to be locked into a “self-reinforcing violent equilibrium” in which incremental increases in traffickers’ confrontations raise the incentives of the government to prosecute traffickers which promote further confrontations with traffickers when, as a result of the detention of drug lords, the remnants of the criminal organization fight each other in successive battles. This article presents quantitative evidence and case studies to assess the importance of the two mechanisms. It uses a unique dataset of recorded communications between drug traffickers and statistics on drug-related homicides.

Keywords

Competition Crime Drugs Drug-related violence Drug trafficking Enforcement Equilibrium Mexico Organized crime Self-reinforcing Violence 

References

  1. Andreas P (1998) The political economy of narco-corruption in Mexico. Current History 97:160–165Google Scholar
  2. Astorga L (2005) El siglo de las drogas: el narcotráfico, del porfiriato al nuevo milenio. Plaza y Janés, Mexico CityGoogle Scholar
  3. Astorga L, Shirk D (2010) Drug trafficking organizations and counter-drug strategies in the U.S.-Mexican Context. In: Olson E, Shirk D, Selee A (eds) Shared responsibility: U.S.-Mexico policy options for confronting organized crime. Mexico Institute, of Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and Trans-Border Institute (TBI), University of San Diego (USD), Washington, DC, San Diego, http://www.wilsoncenter.org/topics/pubs/Shared%20Responsibility--Olson,%20Shirk,%20Selee.pdf.
  4. Bailey J, Godson R (eds) (2000) Organized crime and democratic governability: Mexico and the US-Mexican borderlands. University of Pittsburgh Press, PittsburghGoogle Scholar
  5. Carrasco J (2009) La Familia, el cartel del sexenio. Revista Proceso 1707Google Scholar
  6. Carrasco J, Castellanos F (2009) Michoacán, la pesadilla de Calderón. Revista Proceso, Special edition 25: El México narco 2Google Scholar
  7. Chabat J (2010) Combatting drugs in Mexico under Calderón: the inevitable war. Working Paper 205. Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económica (CIDE). Mexico CityGoogle Scholar
  8. Coscia M, Rios V (2012) “When criminals cannot hide: Generating intelligence data through search engines” Manuscript. Available under request.Google Scholar
  9. CSN (Consejo de Seguridad Nacional) (2010) Base de datos de homicidios presuntamente relacionados con la delincuencia organizada. Presidencia de la República, Mexico CityGoogle Scholar
  10. Dávila P (2011) Tiene México 19 de las 50 ciudades más violentas del mundo. Revista Proceso Online, http://www.proceso.com.mx/?p=286124
  11. Davis D (2006) Undermining the rule of law: democratization and the dark side of police reform in Mexico. Latin American Politics and Society 48:55–86CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Secretaría de Salud, Mexico (2000-2008) Base de datos de egresos hospitalarios de instituciones públicas. In: Secretaría de Salud (2000-2008) Estadisticas por tema. Sistema Nacional de Información de Salud (SINAIS), Mexico CityGoogle Scholar
  13. Flores Pérez C (2009) El estado en crisis: crimen organizado y política, desafíos para la consolidación democrática. Publicaciones de la Casa Chata, Mexico CityGoogle Scholar
  14. Gómez M (2005) Con la muerte en el bolsillo. Editorial Planeta, Mexico CityGoogle Scholar
  15. Gómez F (2011) The Michoacán family: fanaticism and violence. In: Salamanca G, Jorge L, Salcedo-Albarán E (eds) Drug trafficking, corruption, and states: how illicit networks reconfigure institutions in Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico. Fundación Método, Mexico CityGoogle Scholar
  16. Grayson G (2010) La Familia Michoacana drug cartel: implications for U.S.-Mexican security. Strategic Studies Institute (SSI), United States Army War College, CarlisleGoogle Scholar
  17. Guerrero E (2009) Narcotráfico, S.A. Nexos INEGI (Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, Geografía e Informática). (1990-2008) Defunciones generales por causas detalladas CIE. In INEGI (1990-2008) Estadísticas de Mortalidad General. INEGI, Aguascalientes, Mexico Google Scholar
  18. Paternostro S (1995) Mexico as a narco-democracy. World Policy J 12:41–47Google Scholar
  19. Ravelo R (2006) La Familia, un fenómeno insólito. Revista Proceso 1569Google Scholar
  20. Rios V (2012a) Narcomensajes dataset. Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  21. Rios V (2012b) “Lessons from Mexico's Drug War: Policy Outcomes Depend on Organizational Structure'' in World Peace Foundation, Tufts University. May 29, 2012. Boston, MA.Google Scholar
  22. Rios V, Shirk D (2011) Drug violence in Mexico data and analysis through 2010. Special Report for TBI, USD, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  23. Snyder R, Duran-Martinez A (2009) Does illegality breed violence? drug trafficking and state-sponsored protection rackets. Crime, Law, and Social Change 52:253–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Suverza A (2006) El poder de la Familia Michocana. El UniversalGoogle Scholar
  25. Suverza A (2009) El evangelio según La Familia. Nexos Online, http://www.nexos.com.mx/?P=leerarticulo&Article=44
  26. Valdés G (2011) Untitled presentation. In: Considering new strategies for confronting organized crime in Mexico. Conference at the Woodrow Wilson for International Scholars, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  27. Valle E (1995) El segundo disparo: la narcodemocracia mexicana. Océano, Mexico CityGoogle Scholar
  28. Velázquez M (2008) Uncivil society and social legitimacy: La Familia: the twisted evolution of drug cartels in Mexico. Social Policy and Development MSc., London School of Economics Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GovernmentHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.CambridgeUSA

Personalised recommendations