(August 2020). The Logic of Violence in Drug War. The American Political Science Review, 114(3), 1-14.
Drug traffickers sometimes share profits peacefully. Other times they fight. We propose a model to investigate this variation, focusing on the role of the state. Seizing illegal goods can paradoxically increase traffickers’ profits, and higher profits fuel violence.
Killing kingpins makes crime bosses short-sighted, also fueling conflict. Only by targeting the most violent traffickers can the state reduce violence without increasing supply. These results help explain empirical patterns of violence in drug war, which is less studied than interstate or civil war but often as deadly.