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‘Our biographies are the same’: Juvenile Work in Mexican Drug Trafficking Organizations from the Perspective of a Collective Trajectory

British Journal of Criminology

Published online on


Recent violence among drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) in Mexico has resulted in an ongoing demand for new recruits. Juveniles engage in a wide range of activities from lookouts in drug trafficking operations to high-risk activities, such as kidnapping and homicide. Based on ongoing ethnographic work in Mexico and referrals from correctional officials, we conducted in-depth biographical interviews with convicted and active cartel members (N = 79). Our data revealed that similar biographical experiences in communities characterized by a high degree of collectivism laid the groundwork for their entry and continued participation in criminal activity. Through inductive methods, we introduce a theoretical concept that we term a collective trajectory to help explain our subjects’ pathway and criminal careers in DTOs.