Are Drug War Disputes Again Causing Homicide Increase?


Cleveland has had 87 homicides this year, putting the city on pace for the third straight year to have more than 100 murders. Cleveland hasn’t had this many murders since the mid-1990s – there were 135 in 1995, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. With 258 murders so far this year, Philadelphia may record its highest number of homicides in a decade, garnering the nickname “Killadelphia.”

City officials and criminologists say there is no single reason for the increase. The illegal drug market, an abundance of guns, gang violence, a large ex-offender population, and an economic downturn could be fueling the uptick. Federal arrests have yanked dozens of drug dealers off the streets in recent months, causing a cocaine shortage and more violent crimes. Under this theory of Mayor Frank Jackson, the arrests have led to increased competition and violence among drug dealers, leading to short-term side effects: spikes in robberies with firearms and homicides. Peter Moskos, a criminologist at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, does not believe a cocaine shortage exists. If it did, it would lead to killings between the dealers, not the buyers, he said. James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University in Boston, disagrees. Other dealers will capture the market when the competition is removed. If the demand does not decrease, the supply is not affected, he said.


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