Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Piece on the Spread of Gang Control at the Municipal Level

Here is the full piece. Here are some highlights:
Particularly problematic is his reasoning that if criminal activities are conducted openly, that means a particular group now controls the local government. While blatant examples of impunity suggest some degree of official collusion, there is a great deal of distance between some corrupt interaction and a gang’s total control of a city.

The reality is, of course, much more complicated. The interplay between any city’s underworld with its legitimate political leadership is a tangled mess consisting of ever-evolving alliances, corrupt officials working alongside their honest colleagues, and certain gangs colluding with the authorities while their competitors confront them. To offer but one possible scenario, a gang of pirate merchandisers may be making payoffs to the local beat officers and the director of the municipal unit in charge of investigating the crime, while simultaneously having no relationship with the mayor’s office or the federal police deployed locally.

In such a context, any notion of criminal control is a fleeting. The criminal group may feel comfortable conducting their business out in the open, but that doesn’t mean they have purchased the loyalty of the local government wholesale, much less that they are pulling the strings at city hall.

Another problem with Buscaglia’s analysis comes from the fact that he is drawing broad conclusions regarding a shadowy industry based only on activities carried out in the light of day. A smart criminal group, especially one dedicated to hidden activities like drug smuggling, may well exert its control behind the scenes, without leaving any indication of their influence. Such a circumstance is likely not uncommon, which means that Buscaglia’s analysis is unable to account for much of the influence exerted by Mexico’s criminal gangs.

5 comments:

Proyecto MC2 said...

Patrick,

Great piece, although you were nicer to Buscaglia that I would have been. By his logic, New York City (or Madrid or Paris or London) are controlled by organized crime given that many forms of illegal activity (prostitution, drug sales, sales of counterfeit goods, etc.) happen daily in full view of the police.
Anyway, feliz año and thanks for the tip about the editor.

Alejandro Hope said...

Patrick,

Great piece, although you were nicer to Buscaglia that I would have been. By his logic, New York City (or Madrid or Paris or London) are controlled by organized crime given that many forms of illegal activity (prostitution, drug sales, sales of counterfeit goods, etc.) happen daily in full view of the police.
Anyway, feliz año and thanks for the tip about the editor.

pc said...

Hey Alejandro, thanks for the comment and the compliment. Feliz año to you too.

Re the piece, right, any red light district at all means the same! I thing the research itself is interesting though not the most vital measure of public security in Mexico, but the conclusion is odd and seems inevitably alarmist.

Richard said...

Excellent Patrick. I've never been convinced that narcotics exporters are a particular danger to the Mexican state, but only to the administration and its reliance on U.S. government support. The state may be damaged by pirate CDs or narcotics exporting, but whether pirate CDs or narcotics exports are a threat to the STATE that require the violent response this present administration is unimaginatively pursuing is another matter.

"Proyecto MC2" is right... criminality in one form or another may be a problem (or even a threat), but normally one States live with.

pc said...

Thanks richard...congrats on the book.