Mark Kleiman on Mexico’s drug violence

Mark Kleiman has an interesting idea on how to fight Mexico’s drug violence.  It’s short enough to quote in full:

Drug-related violence has claimed 35,000 Mexican lives since 2006, and the level of bloodshed is still rising. With legalization not in the cards and an all-out crackdown unlikely to succeed, good options seem to be scarce.

Here’s a candidate, based on a strategy of dynamic concentration:

Mexico should, after a public and transparent process, designate one of its dealing  organizations as the most violent of the group, and Mexican and U.S. enforcement efforts should focus on destroying that organization. Once that group has been dismantled – not hard, in a competitive market – the process should be run again, with all the remaining organizations  told that finishing first in the violence race will lead to destruction. If it worked, this process would force a “race to the bottom” in violence; in effect, each organization’s drug-dealing revenues would be held hostage to its self-restraint when it comes to gunfire.

This is parallel to David Kennedy’s “pulling levers” strategy to deal with gang violence.

Would it work?  Hard to guess. But it might.  That’s more than you can say for any of the other proposals currently on the table.

It’s a nice idea, but it would probably suffer somewhat in the politics.  If, in order to ensure the downfall of the most violent gang, the government needs to divert resources from fighting other gangs, it may look to some as though they were going easy on crime in one area in order to fight it properly in another.  It could also be tainted with a brush of tacitly legalising the trade for all non-violent traffickers.  Still … cool idea.

1 Response to “Mark Kleiman on Mexico’s drug violence”


  • The Mexican government is allied with the strongest, most violent gang. Mexican military units cross over wholesale into drug gang bands. Human ties are maintained between the new and the old orders, and money flows take place which sustain the violence due to protection by government (and society), from government.

    Admit that you have never seen sociopathology like this before and that you have no idea what to do about it, Mark Kleiman.

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