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South America

Gang rule: understanding and countering criminal governance

Abstract: Gangs govern millions worldwide. Why rule, and how do they respond to states? Many argue that criminal rule provides protection when states do not, and that increasing state services could crowd gangs out. We began by interviewing leaders from…

Do police-community meetings work? Experimental evidence from Medellín

In early September, 2020, ten days before the deadline for revisions to this volume, Colombians participated in the biggest anti-police protests in decades. Like the protests that swept the United States just months earlier, they were sparked by the heinous…

Crime in the time of COVID-19: How Colombian gangs responded to the pandemic

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, scholars and journalists have spread anecdotes of gangs and criminal organizations coming to the aid of citizens, governing in place of the state. They report gang activities that range from enforcing lockdowns to providing goods and…

How organised crime governs: gangs and institutions in Medellin

Despite the prevalence of “criminal governance” in cities around the world, there is very little information available to policymakers about effective strategies to reduce the influence of urban armed groups. Santiago Tobon, (Innovations for Poverty Action and Universidad EAFIT, Columbia),…

Research Insight: Gang governance in Medellin

Urban armed groups, especially criminal gangs, are a growing threat to peace and economic growth in cities across the world, and often exert state-like powers such as enforcing contracts, policing, and taxing businesses. Gangs, mafias, and urban militias have turned…

Event: “Sharing Solutions” – Community policing and public trust

Eric Arias from William & Mary College presents research from his field experiment in Colombia on community policing and public trust. Arias begins with the motivation for this research, which is centred on the premise that citizens’ trust and cooperation…

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