The Enemy at Home: Exploring the Social Roots of Criminal Organizations in Mexico
42 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2012
Date Written: May 18, 2012
There is anecdotal evidence of a growing presence of drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) in Mexican society. As criminal organizations become increasingly rooted in society, citizens may voluntarily or forcibly side with criminals, making it much harder for State forces to effectively fight DTOs. How embedded in Mexican society are criminal organizations? What explains the variations in the level of insertion of criminal organizations across localities? What strategies are used by organized crime to link to societal networks? What determines whether DTOs will be helpful and benevolent or coercive and violent towards citizens? At this moment, the literature has not been able to fully answer any of these questions. Reliable survey data on the topic is scarce, in good part because the issues we attempt to measure are highly sensitive and citizens have incentives to provide false information, or no information at all. To overcome this crucial measurement problem, we implement a series of list experiments embedded in the Survey on Public Safety and Governance 2011, which is co-coordinated by the Office of the Mexican Presidency, Stanford University, the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at UCSD, and ITAM. We find a much broader presence of DTOs across Mexico than had been expected. There is tentative evidence that relationships between criminals and citizens are a function of the observed levels of violence in particular localities, the level of development at the locality, and the degree of social connectedness of individuals.
Keywords: Crime, Violence, Mexico
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