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Relationship of Drugs, Drug Trafficking, and Drug Traffickers to Homicide

NCJ Number
Journal of Crime and Justice Volume: 15 Issue: 1 Dated: (1992) Pages: 25-44
Date Published
20 pages
Using data from a study of 414 homicides committed in New York City during 8 months of 1988, this analysis explores the relationship between homicide and drug trafficking.
A tripartite conceptual framework developed by Goldstein (1985, 1986, 1989) for the classification of drug- related violent episodes was used to distinguish types of drug-related homicides. It specifies three ways in which drugs and violent acts can be related: psychopharmacological, economic compulsive, and systemic. A drug-related homicide is considered psychopharmacological when it is the consequence of short-term or long-term ingestion of specific substances by the perpetrator or the victim of the homicide. Economic compulsive drug-related homicide occurs when a drug user feels compelled to participate in economically oriented violence to support costly drug use. A drug-related homicide is considered systemic when it is the outcome of the traditionally aggressive patterns of interaction within the system of drug use and distribution. In this study, only when both the police and researchers agreed that drugs contributed to the killing in a causal and important way were cases classified as drug-related. By conservative estimate, more than half of the homicide events were found to have been drug-related. Of the 218 homicides that were classified as drug-related, approximately 74 percent were identified as primarily systemic, 14 percent as psychopharmacological, 8 percent as multidimensional, and 4 percent as economic compulsive. Additionally, the study determined that many homicide events that were not drug-related either occurred at a known drug location, involved perpetrators or victims who were known by the police to have been involved with drugs and drug trafficking, or involved perpetrators or victims with prior official criminal records for drug sales or possession. The findings thus indicate that a high proportion of homicides occur among people directly or indirectly involved with drugs or drug trafficking. 1 figure, 9 tables, and 33 references

Date Published: January 1, 1992