IZA DP No. 9067: Kingpin Approaches to Fighting Crime and Community Violence: Evidence from Mexico's Drug War
This study considers the effects of the kingpin strategy, an approach to fighting organized crime in which law-enforcement efforts focus on capturing the leaders of the criminal organization, on community violence in the context of Mexico's drug war. Newly available historical data on drug-trafficking organizations' areas of operation at the municipality level and monthly homicide data allow us to control for a rich set of fixed effects and to leverage variation in the timing of kingpin captures to estimate their effects. This analysis indicates that kingpin captures have large and sustained effects on the homicide rate in the municipality of capture and smaller but significant effects on other municipalities where the kingpin's organization has a presence, supporting the notion that removing kingpins can have destabilizing effects throughout an organization that are accompanied by escalations in violence.