Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Bad Guys?

The organizational structure of international drug smuggling

Jana Benson & Scott Decker
Journal of Criminal Justice, forthcoming

Abstract: While most group offending is not well organized, it is generally assumed that high levels of organization can be found in group offending that generates revenue, such as white-collar crime, drug sales, and smuggling drugs or humans. The organizational structure of international drug smuggling has typically been viewed as highly rational and formally structured. Employing interviews with thirty-four federal prisoners convicted of smuggling large volumes of cocaine into the United States, this study explored the organizational structure of high level international drug smuggling. The subjects described a general lack of formal structure and depicted the drug smuggling operations as composed of isolated work groups without formal connections among each other. These findings bring into question the idea that these groups are rationally organized around pursuing efficiency and support recent research that suggests network security or minimizing risk are key organizing principles of drug trading organizations.


Lost in the Mail: A Field Experiment on Crime

Marco Castillo, Ragan Petrie, Maximo Torero & Angelino Viceisza
George Mason University Working Paper, January 2009

"We send identical envelopes to different households in Lima, Peru from two American cities and record arrivals. The experiment includes a large population of volunteer households across neighborhoods of different socio-economic backgrounds. To better understand the motivation behind the commission of crime, we manipulated the contents, the sender of the mail and the gender of the recipient. In particular, every household was sent four envelopes over the course of a year. Two envelopes had a sender with a foreign name and two had the last name of the sender and recipient matched. Finally, one of each of the two envelopes contained something inside the enclosed card (a small amount of money) that could not be easily detected without careful attention. The other envelope just contained the enclosed card. All these modifications were as subtle as possible and the order in which each different envelope was sent was random. The experiments show first that the mail service in Peru is highly inefficient. The overall rate of mail lost is 18%. The loss rate, however, hides the fact that mail containing money is lost 21% of the time while mail containing no money is lost 15% of the time. That is, we find evidence of shirking as well as crime. Also, the quality of service is not independent of socioeconomic status. Mail is lost at the same rate (roughly 18%), whether it contains money or not, when sent to a poor neighborhood. When sent to a rich neighborhood, however, mail without money is lost only 10% of the time and mail with money is lost 17% of the time."

Nod to Kevin L