Mexico's Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction

cover art
240 pp.,
ISBN: 9781626162945 (1626162948)

240 pp.,
ISBN: 9781626162952 (1626162956)

ISBN: 9781626162969

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April 2016


Table of Contents

Mexico's Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction
Nathan P. Jones

Mexican drug networks are large and violent, engaging in activities like the trafficking of narcotics, money laundering, extortion, kidnapping, and mass murder. Despite the impact of these activities in Mexico and abroad, these illicit networks are remarkably resilient to state intervention.

Drawing on extensive fieldwork and interviews with US and Mexican law enforcement, government officials, organized crime victims, and criminals, Nathan P. Jones examines the comparative resilience of two basic types of drug networks—"territorial" and "transactional"—that are differentiated by their business strategies and provoke wildly different responses from the state. Transactional networks focus on trafficking and are more likely to collude with the state through corruption, while territorial networks that seek to control territory for the purpose of taxation, extortion, and their own security often trigger a strong backlash from the state.

Timely and authoritative, Mexico's Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction provides crucial insight into why Mexico targets some drug networks over others, reassesses the impact of the war on drugs, and proposes new solutions for weak states in their battles with drug networks.

Nathan P. Jones is a nonresident scholar in drug policy and Mexico studies at the Baker Institute and an assistant professor in the Department of Security Studies at Sam Houston State University.

"Nathan P. Jones's study of drug trafficking networks in Mexico provides a rich history and insightful analysis of drug trafficking and counter-drug efforts in the Mexican context. Jones examines many of the contemporary questions and debates about how organized crime works and how to combat it, and in so doing brings much needed practical analysis of one of the most urgent challenges facing Mexico and much of Latin America today."—David Shirk, Associate Professor, Political Science, University of San Diego

"Nathan P. Jones's deep dive into Mexico's organized criminal networks—particularly the Tijuana Cartel—is groundbreaking. It gives us a deeper understanding of both crime structures and state responses to them, as they relate to 'transactional' and 'territorial' organizations. As such, Jones' book helps us turn an important academic, conceptual corner. His book will be a tremendous resource for years to come for those of us who struggle to understand why some criminal groups survive and other dissolve."—Steven Dudley, Co-Director, InSightCrime

"This innovative book makes important theoretical contributions by contrasting drug-trafficking and territorial criminal networks as ideal types and exploring their patterns of interaction with states and civil societies. The middle-range theorizing, backed with solid empirical work, sets out a path to follow to bring the problem of criminality into the mainstream work on quality of democracy in the region."—John Bailey, Professor Emeritus, Georgetown University

"Nathan P. Jones shows that drug cartels and illicit networks can organize as territorial or transactional actors. This distinction will facilitate analysis of organized crime and the threat it poses to states for years to come."—John Sullivan, Senior Fellow, Small Wars Journal-El Centro

Table of Contents

1. The State Reaction and Illicit-Network Resilience
2. The Arellano Félix Organization's Resilience
3. The State Reaction
4. The Sinaloa Cartel, Los Zetas, and Los Caballeros Templarios


Appendix: Comparison of Territorial versus Transactional Drug-Trafficking Networks