How “Forensic Economics’ Sheds Light on The Mexican Drug Wars


Studies by MIT Ph.D. student Melissa Dell strips the violence of the Mexican drug war to its cold, rational essentials, says Viewing Mexico's drug cartels as calculating, profit-maximizing business operations, her model provides a framework for understanding how traffickers have adjusted their operations in response to President Felipe Calderón's war on the drug trade. The cartels have behaved like textbook economic actors, shifting their trafficking routes in predictable ways to circumvent towns where the government has cracked down and raiding towns where competing cartels have been weakened by government efforts.

Dell's work might help Calderón's administration design a better strategy for defeating Mexico's drug lords. her study is part of the emerging field of forensic economics, which aims to shed light on shadowy corners of the economic world.I f the government works to secure areas where the cartels are gaining strength, there may be an increase in violence—not because of anything that government forces did, but simply because it's an area where the drug trade is on the rise.

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