Past Event

Measuring Organized Criminal Groups in Rio de Janeiro

December 10, 2021
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
Online Event

Many urban areas around the world are marked by the presence of armed criminal groups, which negatively impact economic development by reducing human capital investment, earnings and labor mobility. These armed groups often control territories and engage in several economic activities. Yet we still do not know where these actors operate and what activities they engage in. We propose a conceptual framework that encompasses territorial criminal enterprises as one type of non-state actors which monopolizes coercion over a given territory in order to establish local monopolies of illegal and legal goods and services. We study these groups using new data that describes criminal economic activities in Rio de Janeiro, where drug factions and militia groups have controlled territories for at least three decades. Using automated text analysis, we construct a novel panel dataset to both map and characterize their modus operandi in the metropolitan region of Rio de Janeiro. Our findings suggest that, despite their different origins, both militias and drug gangs share practices of territorial control and violence against the local population and exploit similar business streams. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study that uses systematic data to show the diverse business streams explored by criminal groups in Rio de Janeiro. We end with a discussion on key principles of a strategy to curb the growth of territorial criminal enterprises.

Speaker: Joana Monteiro, Lemann Visiting Public Policy Fellow at ILAS.

Discussant: Eduardo Moncada, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Barnard College, Columbia University.

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