Essays in Political Economy
Edited by Susan Rose-Ackerman and Paul Lagunes
Chapter 10: Caught in the crossfire: the geography of extortion and police corruption in Mexico
When Mexican president Felipe Calder—n took office in December 2006 he declared a war on the nation’s drug traffic organizations (R'os and Shirk 2011). Violence escalated as criminal organizations became increasingly fragmented and disputed their territories (Killebrew and Bernal 2010; Beittel 2013). The main strategy followed by the federal government involved capturing leaders and lieutenants of criminal organizations (Calder—n et al. forthcoming). This seemed to provoke even more violence, by making the competition over territorial control fiercer and providing incentives for many gangs to make extortion and protection fees (derecho de piso) an additional source of revenue (Guerrero-Gutiérrez 2011). Given the absence of legal (and peaceful) rules and enforcement mechanisms for competitors in the illegal drug market, disagreements were usually solved violently. Under the pressure of the crackdown by the federal police, the navy and the army, contracts among criminal gangs were often disrupted, leading to even more violence. Competition over the strategic routes towards the market in the United States was settled by literally eliminating rivals (Dell 2012).
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