Meet the Narco: increased competition among criminal organisations and the explosion of violence in Mexico

Several previous studies have found that interventions by security forces against criminal organisations result in increased violence related to organised crime. However, much less is known about how and why this effect occurs. Our study not only identifies the causal mechanisms that explain this outcome, but also evaluates the empirical validity of these mechanisms. Employing a novel data set, we find that following security-force intervention, the number of criminal organisations increases, and such greater fragmentation in turn raises the incidence of violence among criminal organisations as the relative power of the organisations changes. We employ a mediation model to verify the existence of these causal mechanisms. In addition, we find a decreasing rate of rise in levels of violence as the number of organisations increases.

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