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.
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: