Honourable Mention: Narcoland: Organized Crime-Related Violence in the Mexican State

Jayden Taylor


President Felipe Calderón came to power in Mexico on December 2006 and essentially declared war on Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCO). However, instead of quelling the violence, violence actually increased dramatically over the course of Calderón’s administration, especially between 2008 and 2011. This paper investigates Calderón’s national counter narcotics strategy and key developments in the various Mexican TCOs over Calderon’s administration. While many observers would quickly label Mexican TCOs as insurgents, the reality is that these actors act more like rational economic actors. Contrary to insurgents, their aims are not political but purely economical. The increased violence can be attributed to a gradually more aggressive, yet rational, counter narcotics approach from the Mexican government causing the various TCOs to adapt their strategies to the new strategic environment shaped by government actions. These new strategies by these rational economic actors have caused the dramatic increase in the level and brutality of the violence perpetrated in Mexico over the time period in question.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.