Study finds that drug activity boosts crime in neighborhoods regardless of stability, wealth

January 23, 2019, University of California, Irvine
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

The influence of drug activity on crime rates is independent of a neighborhood's stability and socioeconomic status, according to a recent UCI study.

"Communities with narcotics trafficking bring in serious, high-rate offenders, whose activities spill over into surrounding neighborhoods," said lead author Christopher Contreras, a doctoral student in criminology, law & society. "Residential stability and high do not necessarily buffer [neighborhood] blocks against an increase in robberies and burglaries."

The findings are based on an analysis of 2010-2014 crime and from a heavily suburban area in Miami-Dade County with an average annual household income of $74,000 and 72.5 percent home ownership. During this time, the county was in the grip of a heroin epidemic driven largely by demand, since opioids were no longer easily accessible by prescription due to a crackdown by and healthcare task forces on "pill mills."

With the aid of mobile devices, dealers no longer have to operate out of a fixed location. Drug markets are fluid, with business being conducted in such as fast-food restaurant parking lots. "When police put pressure on one area, drug activity is displaced to somewhere else, along with higher crime," Contreras said.

"Policymakers should not only address the issue through stronger law enforcement to get the supply of illegal narcotics off the streets, but also address the growing demand for opioids." John Hipp, professor of criminology, law & society at UCI, is co-author of the study, which appears online in the journal Justice Quarterly.

Explore further: Impact of opioid epidemic on children varies by state

More information: Christopher Contreras et al. Drugs, Crime, Space, and Time: A Spatiotemporal Examination of Drug Activity and Crime Rates, Justice Quarterly (2019). DOI: 10.1080/07418825.2018.1515318

Related Stories

Impact of opioid epidemic on children varies by state

November 6, 2018

A new report released by the Drug Enforcement Administration finds most overdose deaths are caused by prescription drugs, including opioids. While opioid abuse continues to plague certain states more than others, each state ...

Recommended for you

Archaeologists discover Incan tomb in Peru

February 16, 2019

Peruvian archaeologists discovered an Incan tomb in the north of the country where an elite member of the pre-Columbian empire was buried, one of the investigators announced Friday.

Where is the universe hiding its missing mass?

February 15, 2019

Astronomers have spent decades looking for something that sounds like it would be hard to miss: about a third of the "normal" matter in the Universe. New results from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory may have helped them ...

What rising seas mean for local economies

February 15, 2019

Impacts from climate change are not always easy to see. But for many local businesses in coastal communities across the United States, the evidence is right outside their doors—or in their parking lots.

The friendly extortioner takes it all

February 15, 2019

Cooperating with other people makes many things easier. However, competition is also a characteristic aspect of our society. In their struggle for contracts and positions, people have to be more successful than their competitors ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.