Publication Date




Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


International Studies (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Bruce Bagley

Second Committee Member

Bill Smith

Third Committee Member

Elvira Maria Restrepo

Fourth Committee Member

Vladimir Rouvinski


The cases of Russia and Mexico, where deadly and violent organized crime erupted during transitions from authoritarian rule, suggest that political regimes may determine the type of organized crime in a society. This assertion runs counter to the common view of organized crime as a powerful corrosive force that undermines the vitality of democratizing regimes. Why did not democratization strengthen the rule of law in Mexico and Russia, two countries where concurrent processes of economic and political liberalization occurred in the last decade of the 20th century? Why did Russian organized crime become less violent and more controllable after Russia reverted to authoritarianism after 2000? This research suggests that the driving forces behind these criminal transformations are the capacity of state coercive institutions and criminal opportunity structures created by shifting market incentives. Organized crime becomes more fragmented, more violent and less controllable while democracies are taking hold but have not yet consolidated. Put differently, the forces of organized crime are frequently more stable and cohesive, but less violent and more subject to state elites, under more authoritarian regimes.


Organized Crime; Political Regime; Democratization; Russia; Mexico