Benjamin Lessing

Associate Professor Benjamin Lessing studies "criminal conflict"—organized violence involving armed groups that do not seek formal state power, such as drug cartels, prison gangs, and paramilitaries.

His first book, Making Peace in Drug Wars: Crackdowns and Cartels in Latin America (Cambridge University Press), examines armed conflict between drug trafficking organizations and the state in Colombia, Mexico and Brazil.

He is currently at work on a second book, tentatively titled Criminal Leviathans: How Gangs Govern, Organize Crime, and Challenge the State from Behind Bars, which explores the counterproductive effects of mass-incarceration policies, fostering the growth of powerful armed criminal groups at the core of the state's coercive apparatus.