Organized Crime, Anti-Police Violence, and Police Behavior: Observational and Experimental Evidence from Mexico


Existing research in political science has shown that militarized anti-cartel campaigns are unsuccessful as they ultimately lead to more violence. However, the empirical case of Mexico reveals that violence has not subsided even after AMLO pledged to pursue an “abrazos, no balazos” approach in the fight against organized crime. This prompted me to question whether the militarization of law enforcement persists across the different levels of government and, if so, whether this impacts police reform efforts at the subnational level. While it may be true that the militarization law enforcement can undermine local reform efforts, criminal organizations—especially those that have the capacity to establish what scholars refer to “criminal governance” over certain societies— also have a stake in policing matters and thus seek to influence the policy environment wherein police reform takes place. Interviews with NGOs and academics in the field, as well as my close reading of the literature, led me to consider this potential framing for my dissertation project. To understand how militarization affects reform, we also need to understand how militarization and reform may affect the interests of organized crime groups. This will allow researchers to assess how local governments in federal democracies can design and implement policies in the face of pressures stemming from both national governments and criminal organizations.

Juan Campos
Publication date: 
October 24, 2022
Publication type: 
Student Research