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 large portions of many cities into violent hot spots where government officials and police forces do not go. In certain neighborhoods in Latin America and elsewhere, criminal organizations also act as local governing bodies, exerting state-like control over populations that are underserved by the government.
Despite the prevalence of such “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.
This EDI Research Insight provides a summary of findings related to the EDI research project on the impacts of intensive municipal governance and community organization on gang governance in Medellín.
Authors: Christopher Blattman, Gustavo Duncan, Benjamin Lessing, Santiago Tobon