Shaking Criminal Organizations: Earthquakes and Organized Crime


There is mixed evidence regarding how organized crime organizations become altruistic or violent after a natural disaster. This paper analyses the effect of the 2017 earthquakes that hit Mexico on the incidence of violence and altruism committed by large and local criminal organizations. Using a difference-in-differences methodology; there is a significant increase in the probability that a municipality suffers an incidence of violence committed by local criminal organizations by 5%, but no effect on violence incidences committed by large criminal organizations. A Spatial Point Pattern Test (SPPT) reveals that this increase in violent crimes is localized in six municipalities, mostly forming a spatial cluster in Mexico City. In addition, the results show that large criminal organizations behave non-altruistically, whereas local criminal organizations increase their social altruism activities by 7%. In all, the earthquakes seem to affect the behavior of local criminal organizations but not that of large criminal organizations.