Are avocados the blood diamonds of Mexico? : an empirical study on how increasing demand for Mexican avocados is related to cartel violence
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- Master Thesis 
Has the increasing demand for Mexican avocados caused an escalation of violence between Mexican cartels? I theorize that the cartels enter growing licit industries to diversify their revenue stream from the drug trade. Increasing demand for legal commodities possibly leads to higher territorial competition between cartels and higher rates of violence. Recent media attention suggests that avocados are implicated in the bloody cartel business. However, earlier research found a negative relationship between cartel-related crimes and licit industries. Based on the negative relationship observed in recent studies, using an OLS and IV design, I test the hypothesis that the growth in the Mexican avocado industry leads to a decrease in cartel-related violence in Mexican municipalities. In contrast with earlier research, I find a significant increase in the total number of reported cartel-related crimes as a consequence of Mexican avocados' growing production rates. Given the growth rate of global avocado demand, leading to an explosion of Mexican avocado production in the last decade, I interpret the result as coming from intensified territorial competition between Mexican drug trafficking organizations' splintered landscape. With the necessity for cartels to diversify their revenue streams in the aftermath of the war on drugs initiated in 2006, the avocado industry's profitability is expected to draw numerous cartels to the business, increasing the likelihood of territorial contestation and rates of violence.