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

By Viridiana Rios (Accepted for publication at \Trends in Organized Crime,” 2013). This article explains why homicides related to drug-tracking 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 trackers battling to take control of a competitive market, and (b) casualties and arrests generated by law enforcement operations against trackers. Both sources of violence inter-act causing Mexico to be locked into a self-reinforcing violent equilibrium. In this equilibrium, trackers confrontations raise the incentives of the government to pros-
ecute trackers, and prosecution promotes more confrontations between trackers. Prosecution promotes confrontation when after the capture of a drug lord, criminal organizations fragment and ght each other. This article presents quantitative evidence and case studies to assess the importance of the two mechanisms and uses a unique dataset of recorded communications between drug trackers and statistics
on drug-related homicides.

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