Government Crackdowns, Organized Crime Expansion, and Government Capture

My book-style dissertation investigates how the Mexican government’s crackdown of 2007 created incentives for organized crime to diversify their activities and expand their presence to territories where they had previously not operated. It then traces how criminal organizations have attempted, often successfully, to influence public policy by capturing local governments institutions, including public security agencies and local councils, in these new territories. To examine these questions my research relies on multi-method research, including quasi-experiments and systematic qualitative methods.

Working Papers

Cutting Hydra's Head: Crackdowns and Organized Crime Expansion

In this paper I argue that government crackdowns against organized criminal groups (OCGs) with concentrated portfolios can create certain incentives that push these organizations to diversify their activities. When lucrative new markets are found but cannot be fully exploited in the territories where OCGs are present, OCGs then face incentives to expand their presence to new territories where these lucrative new markets can be exploited. It then tests this theory in Mexico, where it first provides suggestive evidence that the Mexican government’s crackdown of 2007 led OCGs to diversify beyond drug trafficking. It then exploits the fact that one new lucrative market OCGs diversified to could only be done in specific places: oil theft from pipelines. Using a difference-in-differences design, I show that the crackdown caused OCGs to strategically expand to municipalities with oil pipelines.

Work in Progress

Mafias, Migrants, and Voter Mobilization in Prohibition Era Chicago