Drug cartels become Mexicos fifth biggest employer as 175,000 join gangs

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    Vicious cartels are now so prevalent in Mexico that they have been ranked among the top employers.

    It is thought that an astounding 175,000 people in Mexico are currently employed by approximately 150 different cartel groups, according to new findings by researchers. This means that, collectively, cartels now stand as the fifth-largest employer in Mexico.

    The cartels have a notorious reputation for kidnapping and killing people who get in the way of their drug-related crimes. As a result, figures show that within the last decade, 37% of known cartel members had either been killed or incarcerated.

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    To read more about organised crime including cartels, click here.

    This means that thousands of gang members have needed to be replaced. The study, which was published in the Science journal, estimates that cartels must have recruited nearly 20,000 new members annually.

    The report said: "Mexican cartels lose many members as a result of conflict with other cartels and incarcerations. Yet, despite their losses, cartels manage to increase violence for years. We address this puzzle by leveraging data on homicides, missing persons, and incarcerations in Mexico for the past decade along with information on cartel interactions."

    It added: "Recruiting between 350 and 370 people per week is essential to avoid their collapse because of aggregate losses. Furthermore, we show that increasing incapacitation would increase both homicides and cartel members. Conversely, reducing recruitment could substantially curtail violence and lower cartel size."

    However, an earlier study from the US Drug Enforcement Administration highlighted that the actual figures may be higher than the estimated figures as the total cartel workforce may not be accurately represented. The research only accounts for those directly involved in activities posing a risk of violence.

    Victoria Dittmar, a researcher for Insight Crime, highlighted the difficulty in distinguishing those affiliated with criminal organisations. There are many people linked to cartels who aren't classed as employees such as bankers, who are known for assisting in money laundering, and politicians who receive illicit funds.

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    Researchers think that to mitigate the levels of violence, they need to nip recruitment to cartels in the bud. The study said: "Results highlight the need to devote more attention to recruitment. Reducing recruitment requires structural efforts at the state and local levels."

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    • Cartels
    • Jobs
    • Gangs
    • Crime

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