Chris Blattman

The difficulties of criminal coordination

Only utter carelessness in approaching others or some inane misunderstandings can lead to confusing law-abiding citizens for criminals—such as that of the forty seven year old Canadian woman who in 1991 did use the Yellow Pages and contacted a firm in Phoenix, Arizona, called “Guns for Hire” seeking to put a contract on her husband’s life.

She failed to notice that the firm specialized in putting on “Wild West theatrical shows for conventions, private parties and the like.” After handing $2,000 to an undercover detective posing as a hit man, the woman was arrested and later sentenced to four and a half years in jail.

Before calling Guns for Hire, the detective later explained, she had considered calling motorcycle clubs and an Italian American association.

That from the opening (free) chapter of Diego Gambetta’s new book on the difficulties of criminal coordination. What he describes is a lesson in industrial organization theory, in an unusual industry. (The best screening and signalling device? Prison.)

I’ve written before about Gambetta’s book on the Mafia. Well worth it.

Why We Fight - Book Cover
Subscribe to Blog