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Nexus of Organized Crime and Politics in Mexico: Mexico's Legacy of Corruption

NCJ Number
Trends in Organized Crime Volume: 4 Issue: 3 Dated: Spring 1999 Pages: 9-28
Stanley A. Pimentel
Date Published
20 pages
This paper examines the associations between organized crime and politics in Mexico from the 1960s to the mid-1990s.
The historical and cultural contexts of the evolution of these associations are also examined. The discussion notes that in the contemporary period, the organized political and criminal elements came together to work in a collaborative pattern. Peter Lupsha has developed a theory that helps interpret political-criminal relationship in the Mexican case; Lupsha's elite-exploitative model of organized crime asserts that the organized criminal enterprises are considered not as useful or necessary evils, but rather as cash cows to be manipulated and exploited by political authorities. Mexico fit this model in that during almost 70 years in power, the Partido Revolucionario Institucional used its military, police, and internal security agencies to control, extract, and extort from crime groups. The politicians and the establishment provided immunity from prosecution while gaining access to funds for party political campaigns and personal enrichment. The discussion also notes that currently, the traditional methods of control have deteriorated to the point where criminality is rampant, some political murders have not been resolved, and kidnappings for huge ransoms have gone unresolved for years. The country lacks a professional career and civil service system for the police and judicial services. Through intimidation, coercion, and bribery of judges, major criminals are having serious charges dismissed. No respect exists for law enforcement authorities. President Zedillo has repeatedly stated that criminals present the greatest threat to Mexico's national security. The country's future is fraught with peril and with competing interests. Mexico's Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz has concluded that the forces of openness, modernization, and democracy will prevail, but the path will be painful and difficult. Appended outline of comparative models of organized crime and reference notes