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Journal Articles

Burning bridges: why don’t organised crime groups pull back from violent conflicts?

Dominant theories of organised crime assume that criminal organisations which operate in extremely violent markets do so because they consider it financially cost-effective. This article contends that by using increasingly violent actions intended to deter competitors and government forces, criminal organisations sometimes eliminate their exit option, making the penalties for withdrawal to a less violent strategy significantly worse than those of continued violence. Based on a systematic examination of footage of public statements by 18 former associates of two Mexican organised crime groups (OCGs), La Familia Michoacana (LFM) and its offshoot Los Caballeros Templarios (LCT), this article argues that through gradual increases in their use of violence, these groups reached a ‘point of no return’. After reaching this point, desisting from further violence escalation became more hazardous than pursuing a violent path, even when the latter did not align with the organisations’ business interests.

  • Publication: Global Crime
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • ISSN: 1744-0572 | E-ISSN: 1744-0580
  • Original url:

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