This talk will be hybrid in-person and remote.
Transnational criminal networks have become a fulcrum of attention of both law enforcement and counterterrorism efforts, given their violence and resiliency. Despite challenging established institutions, their local dynamics are poorly understood, more so of those that are from Latin America. Those entities evolved to occupy the virtuous bandit/warlord cultural role which has been present since the colonial times, where they provide some form of social good on marginalized communities but also explore them for manpower and cover to perform various illegal activities. This dissertation proposes three contributions to the field by analyzing powerful groups from the city of Rio de Janeiro that have not been explored by the dark networks literature. First, mapping their activities and connections on social media to get insights into the scale of each group and the relevance of its members on spreading its public messaging. Secondly, I approach the effect that territorial control by factions has on crimes and deaths, testing if there is indeed a mitigation of violence, the distinctions within the same group, and the volatility effect present in disputed areas. Last, tackling the problem of classifying brazilian factions with regards to the Crime-Terror continuum, ideological content shared by the users is combined with daily records of gunfire to test if violent rhetoric indeed results in real-world damage and if they might be transitioning towards any of the extremes. Ultimately I expect this project to provide leverage points in order to disrupt those entities while simultaneously evolving the comprehension of their embedding into communities.
Prof. David Lazer (Chair, Northeastern University)
Prof. Nick Beauchamp (Northeastern University
Prof. Max Abrahms (Northeastern University)
Prof. Gisela Bichler (California State University)
Lucas da Silva Almeida is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in the Network Science Program, working under Professor David Lazer. He has an M.S. in Complex Systems Modelling from the University of São Paulo, and he has a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Brasilia. He has experience as a policy advisor in the Brazilian Federal Chamber of Deputies. His research interests lie in the overlap of Complexity and Public Policy, especially on developing models that help understand resilience and structure of Dark Networks, such as terrorist groups and criminal enterprises. He is currently working on the contagion patterns of both hate speech and mass shooting behavior.