Hidden Drivers of Violence Diffusion: Evidence from Illegal Oil Siphoning in Mexico

64 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2019

Date Written: October 16, 2019


This paper develops a model of spatial violence diffusion when criminal organizations specialized in one illegal activity (e.g., drug trafficking) are attacked by security forces and tests its theoretical implications using the wave of violence triggered by the Mexican War on Drugs. The model predicts that violence will spread to locations with strategic value for other illegal activities (e.g., oil siphoning). We find evidence supporting this prediction. We document that the Mexican War on Drugs induced drug trafficking organizations to begin stealing oil from the Mexican oil pipeline network and this portfolio reallocation of illegal activities affected the spatial diffusion of violence. We show that violence increased in locations in the oil pipeline network with no strategic value for drug trafficking. Also aligned with the theoretical predictions of the model, we find that violence increased more in isolated branches of the oil pipeline network, which are more complicated to protect by the authorities and where simultaneously opening several illegal taps produces a severe negative externality.

Keywords: D74, K42, R12

JEL Classification: crime, violence diffusion, war on drugs

Suggested Citation

Lopez Cruz, Ivan and Torrens, Gustavo, Hidden Drivers of Violence Diffusion: Evidence from Illegal Oil Siphoning in Mexico (October 16, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3470787 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3470787

Ivan Lopez Cruz

Sabanci University ( email )

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Istanbul, 34956
216 483 9337 (Phone)

Gustavo Torrens (Contact Author)

Indiana University ( email )

Wylie Hall, 100 S Woodland Ave
Bloomington, IN 47405-7104
United States
8128568131 (Phone)

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