Illegal drug markets and violence in Mexico: the causes beyond Calderón

Available from: 
October 2013
Paper author(s): 
Daniel Mejia (Universidad de los Andes)
Conflict, Crime and Violence

This paper estimates the effect that drug tracking has had on violence in Mexico in recent years. We use two different proxies for drug tracking activities at the municipal level: a measure of cartels' presence and the value of cocaine seizures, and instrument them using simple geographic features of each municipality interacted with cocaine seizures in Colombia. We propose a simple model of the war on drugs that captures the essence of our identiffiation strategy: aggregate supply shocks affect the size of illegal drug markets, which then increases violence. Our estimations indicate that aggregate supply shocks originated in drug seizures in Colombia have always had an impact on drug trafficking in Mexico, but these changes in the illegal drug market only started to affect homicide rates since president Calderon took office in December 2006. Our results show that government crackdowns on drug cartels might not be the only explanation behind the rise of illegal drug tracking and violence observed in the last six years in Mexico: successful interdiction policies implemented in Colombia since 2006 have also played a major role in the worsening of the Mexican situation during Calderon's sexennium.


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Research section: 
Lacea 2013 annual meeting
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