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Classifying Drug Markets by Travel Patterns: Testing Reuter and MacCoun's Typology of Market Violence

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2012
228 pages
This dissertation examined the effect that travel distance had on violence levels and crime rates in outdoor drug markets as described in a previous study.

The major findings from this research include the following: public markets, those in which buyers and sellers travel from outside their own neighborhoods, were found to be most violent; separate raw distance measures for buyers and sellers correlated with within-drug market violence, after controlling for community demographics; a negative effect of socioeconomic status and violence held even when modeled with drug market variables; and as the proportion of crack cocaine sales within drug markets increased so too did within-market violence. This study examined whether features of the distributions of travel distance to market of drug buyers, drug sellers, or the interaction between the two, predicted drug market violence levels regardless of the demographic structure of the surrounding community. Data for the study were obtained from the analysis of 5 years of incident and arrest data collected by the Philadelphia Police Department between 2006 and 2010. Using a hierarchical clustering technique, 34 drug markets were identified. Following this, hierarchical linear models were used to explore how travel distances affected buyers and sellers separately and whether these effects contributed to violence levels in the drug markets. The study's findings suggest that understanding the travel patterns of the two major participants in drug markets is key to understanding the different levels of violence found in neighboring drug markets. Policy implications are discussed. Figures, tables, references, and appendixes

Date Published: May 1, 2012