46 Fed. Probation 3 (1982)
Homicides Related to Drug Trafficking

handle is hein.journals/fedpro46 and id is 189 raw text is: Homicides Related to Drug Trafficking
BY RONALD HEFFERNAN, JOHN M. MARTIN, AND ANNE T. ROMANO*

OMICIDE is one of the most serious of
crimes. From the earliest of times this
crime has received extensive attention from
the public, the press, the police and the courts,
legislators, criminologists, and a variety of others.
Recent trends show an increase in the amount of
homicide in the Nation.1 This article presents a
study of one aspect of that increase.
Drug-Related Homicides
The purpose of this article is to refine our
understanding of homicide by conceptualizing in a
new way what appears to be a major and increas-
ingly  widespread   subtype   of homicide-i.e.,
homicide as an aspect of drug trafficking systems.
From this examination of homicide, a new explana-
tion emerges regarding the recent national in-
crease in homicides. This increase may be brought
about by several forces, one of the most significant
being the increase in the number of homicides
related to drug trafficking. The purpose here is to
assess on a limited, exploratory, but empirical
basis whether a significant number of drug-
related homicides do exist, and whether there ap-
pears to be a major difference between them and
other homicides.
To date there has been very little, if any,
research that examines the phenomenon of drug-
related homicides understood as an aspect of the
illegal drug trafficking business. Most research
studies of homicide have concentrated on murders
that are outbursts of emotional pressures, the con-
sequence of psychotic episodes, or sometimes vin-
dictive killings. Sociologists particularly have em-
phasized the situational aspects of homicides, e.g.,
in the identification of an unintentional killing
during a barroom fight.
The scientific literature on homicide is exten-
sive. It contains innumerable case studies of of-
fenders and an array of statistical investigations.
Many hypotheses have been formulated, tested,
and proven significantly to contribute in varying
degrees, either positively or negatively to the pro-
blem of criminal homicide. The present literature
*Ronald Heffernan is detective sergeant, New York City
Police Department; John M. Martin is professor of sociology,
Fordhan University; Anne T. Romano is a doctoral candidate
In sociology, Fordham University.

presents classic psychiatric interpretations, and,
more recently, interactional patterns involving
such episodes as victim-precipitated
homicides.2 Other literature emphasizes the syn-
drome of love triangle killings, felony homicides,
arson homicides, vehicular homicides and others.
However, the literature is virtually barren on the
topic of drug-related homicides as an aspect of
drug trafficking systems.
Murder as an aspect of organized crime has long
been recognized in the United States, Sicily, Latin
America, and several other areas of the globe. It
appears that many of the motives associated with
organized crime homicides are the same as those
associated with drug-related homicides. Unlike
the nonprofessional killing, which is often commit-
ted because of passion, the organized crime
homicide is usually a well calculated, rational,
businesslike decision that insures its success. The
victim is dead, but for certain.S But the precise
distinction between organized crime homicides
and what are here called drug-related homicides
is not exactly clear at this point. From press
reports from such cities as Miami, San Juan, and
New York City, the recent outbreak of drug-
related homicides seems to involve far more kill-
ings than organized crime homicides ever did. On
the other hand, if drug trafficking is considered as
one of the many facets of organized crime, then
homicides related to such trafficking may be con-
sidered as a type of organized crime activity.
Basic Definitions
Homicide-the unlawful killing of another with
malice aforethought expressed or implied.
Deaths recorded as being accidental, ex-
cusable, justifiable, or suicidal are not includ-
ed. (However, homicide is the overall defini-
tion and for the purpose of this article, drug-
related homicides need to be distinguished
from the overall definition.)
'Prm 1976 through 1980, the homicide rate per 100,000 in the United States in-
creased by 16 percent. while the total number of homicides increased by 22 percnt
Unifom 2 /2rpor. 1980, U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of In-
vestigton. p.a
xWaie Brambe  CW.ns and the Mind. Philadelphia. J.B. Lippincott. 1948,
repreets a clasic example of the psychiatric Interpretation of homicides and other
violent crimes. For an excellent recent summary of the major sociological studis of
homicide see Don C. Gibbons. Society, Cphiand 0'ineal Behavior Furth Edition.
Engewood Cliffs. Now Jersey. Prentice Hall Inc.. 1982. pp. 272-279.
SPerhps the best fictional account of organe crime murders is to be found in
Mario P 7Uo T  odfather, G.P. tnam's Sons, New York: 1969. For a factual ac-
c   of organized crime murders, m Burton B. Turku@, Mwur. c.. New York
Far., Biraus. end Young, 1961.

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