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Reducing Drug Violence in Mexico: Options for Implementing Targeted Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2014
66 pages
This study continues an analysis of the merits of targeted enforcement to reduce violence related to drug trafficking in Mexico.
Just as Boston (Massachusetts) successfully used targeted enforcement to reduce gang-related homicides, this report proposes a coordinated bi-national (the United States and Mexico) approach for reducing drug-related violence in Mexico by targeting existing U.S. resources against the most violent drug-trafficking organizations (VDTOs) operating in Mexico. Such a strategy deters drug-related violence through the credible threat of U.S. sanctions applied to the worst violent offenders in Mexico. These sanctions include, but are not limited to arrest, prosecution, and drug and asset seizures. Previous strategies have attempted to stem the flow of drugs into the U.S. by dismantling the leadership of VDTOs. This has failed to reduce drug-related violence due to the violence associated with struggles to fill power vacuums in drug-trafficking organizations weakened by previous law enforcement strategies. A targeted enforcement strategy, on the other hand, relies on the identification of violent drug-trafficking organizations in Mexican regions and the linking of these VDTOs to their U.S. wholesalers. When specific VDTOs cannot be identified, regions where drug-related violence is prevalent can be identified and targeted for enforcement against violent offenders. Whether applied in a specific region or to a particular VDTO, targeted enforcement imposes punitive sanctions on the most violent individuals and other members of specific VDTOs. This should provide a strong incentive against violent competition in the context of temporary power vacuums in DTOs. By making violent behavior the target of punitive criminal justice responses, this can change the tactics by which DTOs operate. Further, VDTOs may be most vulnerable to punitive sanctions on the U.S. side of the border rather than the Mexican side. 2 figures and 55 references

Date Published: April 1, 2014