Research

Photo credit: Mateus Dantas / O Povo

PhD dissertation

"The Dark Side of Competition: Organized Crime and Violence in Brazil". Defended in October 2021. Johns Hopkins University.


Brazilian prison gangs have spilled out to the outside world and become criminal enterprises. My doctoral dissertation developed a novel methodology for detecting the presence and activity level of organized criminal groups (OCGs) in Brazilian states using the number of Google searches for the years between 2004 and 2019. I argue that OCG presence and activity levels by themselves do not explain homicide rates well; in fact, some states with high levels of OCG activity have relatively low homicide rates. However, in combination with a highly competitive scenario, the strong presence of these groups can translate into high levels of violence. Expert interviews help elucidate what the expansion of these powerful groups mean for society and state institutions. The full dissertation can be found here.


Media coverage:

Revista Piauí, 1/5/2022. "Crime organizado deixa pistas no Google."

Portal G1, 1/10/2022. "Estudo aponta que nome de facção foi pesquisado no Google no Ceará antes de origem no Amazonas."

Academic papers

From Prison Gangs to Transnational Mafia: the Expansion of Organized Crime in Brazil

(under journal review)


Supporting Youth and Families to Prevent Risky Youth Behavior and Delinquency: an Impact Evaluation of a Family Counseling Program in the Caribbean

with Alberto Diaz-Cayeros and Rachel Pizatella-Haswell

(under journal review)


Criminal Monopolies, Competition and Criminal governance: Effects on Violence

(working paper)


State-Criminal Alliances and Community Predation: Evidence from Rio de Janeiro

with Edgar Franco-Vivanco and Beatriz Magaloni

(working paper)

Policy reports

Impact Evaluation of the PMGSY Rural Roads Program in India. The World Bank. 2021.

Media coverage: The Indian Express, Hindustan Times 1 and 2


Improving Measurement of Youth and Young Adult Delinquency Risk. USAID Report. 2021.


Evaluation of Secondary Prevention in the Community, Family and Youth Resilience (CFYR) Program in St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis and Guyana. USAID Impact Evaluation Final Report. 2020.

Impact Evaluation of the ‘Increasing Services for Survivors of Sexual Assault in South Africa’ Program. USAID Impact Evaluation Final Report. 2017.

Changing Relationships Between Police and Society: What Inspiring Experiences in Rio de Janeiro, Medellin and the U.S. Can Teach Mexico. Stanford University Program on Poverty and Governance Policy Brief no. 1, 2011.

Other publications

The Favelas of Rio de Janeiro Have a Promising New Policing Program. Kulturaustausch – Zeitschrift für internationale Perspektiven (Germany). January 2013.


The Pacification of Favelas in Rio de Janeiro. Manuscript. 2011.


Going Beyond Bolsa Família to Solve Underdevelopment Problems in the Brazilian Northeast. Debates Latinoamericanos, no. 16, 2011.