Trends in Organized Crime

, Volume 21, Issue 3, pp 235–261 | Cite as

Fragmentation and cooperation: the evolution of organized crime in Mexico

  • Laura H. Atuesta
  • Yocelyn Samantha Pérez-DávilaEmail author


Some researchers suggest that the observed boom in the levels of violence in Mexico since 2008 are a consequence of placing federal military forces in states with a significant organized crime presence. However, little has been said about the role of the changeable, competitive, and violent nature of criminal organizations on this increasing violence. Using the literature on inter- and intra-state conflicts as matter of analogy to explain organized crime developments in Mexico, fragmentation and cooperation seem to be determinant forces that alter the equilibrium within Mexican criminal groups, affecting their territorial control. By using a private dataset gathered by the Drug Policy Program at the Center for Economic Research and Teaching (CIDE), we examine the evolution of criminal organizations in Mexico by focusing on their different alliances and fragmentations from December 2006 to December 2011. Our analysis suggests that violence is a consequence not only of the law enforcement actions, but also of the fragmentation and cooperation within and between private groups.


Organized crime Instra-state conflicts Fragmentation Cooperation: criminal groups 


Compliance with ethical standards


This study did not receive any funding.

Conflict of interest

Author A declares that he/she has no conflict of interest. Author B declares that he/she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Informed consent

Not Applicable.

Supplementary material

12117_2017_9301_MOESM1_ESM.docx (110 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 109 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laura H. Atuesta
    • 1
  • Yocelyn Samantha Pérez-Dávila
    • 1
  1. 1.Centro de Investigación y Docencia Económicas (CIDE)- CONACYTDrug Policy ProgramAguascalientesMexico

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