Abstract: "Power and Underworld Alliances - Understanding Cooperation and Conflict Dynamics among Criminal Organizations" is the first comprehensive study of the alliance behavior of criminal groups, and approaches the topic from an internal conflict perspective. The project focuses on four critical cases - Mexico (1982-2012), Colombia (1982-2010), El Salvador (... read more1994-2014) and the city of Montreal, Canada (1950s to 2006) - and proposes a theoretical framework on the formation, continuation and termination of alliances among criminal organizations. I argue that criminal groups do not choose their allies at random and opportunistically. The costs associated with alliance formation and termination force criminal groups to engage in a more selective process, and be discriminate in their choice of allies based on two factors: the level of threat to operations or survival that each group faces; and the symmetry or asymmetry of the relative distribution of power among the potential allies. Although alliances among criminal groups are neither new nor insolated events, they do represent an understudied phenomenon in security studies, in particular, and in political science in general. The existing literature focuses on sporadic cooperation ties between terrorist and criminal organizations, and on the "strategic alliances" criminal groups enter to exploit illicit business opportunities. However, the existing body of literature has not explicitely addressed the existence and roots of military alliances among criminal organizations. In addition to the theoretical contributions to various streams of international relations and comparative politics literature, this dissertation project also enriches the knowledge available on problematic actors such as the Mexican drug cartels, Colombian "bandas criminales," Salvadorian street gangs, and Mafia groups operating in Montreal, Canada.
At the request of the author, this graduate work is not available to view in the Tufts Digital Library until January 27, 2019.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Tufts University, 2017.
Submitted to the Dept. of Diplomacy, History, and Politics.
Advisor: Robert Pfaltzgraff.
Committee: Daniel Drezner, and Robert Bunker.
Keywords: International relations, and Political science.read less