Exploring the Influence of Drug Trafficking Gangs on Overdose Deaths in the Largest Narcotics Market in the Eastern United States
2.1. Drug Overdose Deaths and Philadelphia
2.2. Spatial Distribution of Overdose Deaths
3.1. Target Area
3.2. Spatial Unit
3.3. Data and Measures
3.3.1. Dependent Variable
3.3.2. Independent Variables
3.3.3. Additional Covariates
3.4. Allocation of Census Data to Thiessen Polygons
3.5. Spatial Concentration of ODs
3.6. Analytic Approach Predicting Counts of ODs in Thiessen Polygons
6. Discussion and Conclusions
Conflicts of Interest
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We use the terms “drug gang” and “drug trafficking organization” interchangeably in this work, although law enforcement agencies in Philadelphia more often use the term “drug trafficking organization” to describe the groups operating in this drug market.
This figure is a weighted count using the 2014–2018 ACS 5 year average and areal interpolation procedures described further in this section.
From the 2014–2018 ACS 5 year average, 72% of the total weighted population in the target area are ethnically Hispanic or Latino, and of this group, 78% are Puerto Rican.
According to the 2014–2018 American Community Survey, 54% of the population in Kensington were below the poverty line, compared to 25% in the city as a whole.
Ratcliffe (2004) found that an 85% hit rate was an acceptable minimum standard when conducting spatial crime analysis, although recent work has returned to this question of minimum acceptable hit rates. Briz-Redón et al. (2020) replicated (Ratcliffe 2004) procedure using five crime types aggregated to five different areal units in Valencia. They found that the minimum acceptable hit rate varied by the crime type and areal unit under consideration. For all crime types, when considering a spatial extent of 566 Thiessen polygons constructed around street intersections in Valencia, their analyses yielded a minimum acceptable hit rate ranging from 72% to 83.7% (Briz-Redón et al. 2020).
As detailed in the measurements section, concentrated disadvantage is an index comprising the extent of unemployment, poverty, households receiving public assistance, and female-headed households.
This American Community Survey item was not available at the Census block group level.
The land use variable measuring the percent commercial or recreational land use was dropped from all analyses due to its correlation with transit stops, impeding model convergence. We retained the transit stops variable as we expected it would vary across the spatial units in our study more than the land use variable, particularly due to the very small size of the units.
There were 18 Thiessen polygons designated as priority corners, experiencing 19 ODs in 2018–2019. This resulted in a mean of 1.06 ODs per Thiessen polygon. There were 515 Thiessen polygons that were not designated as priority corners, experiencing 246 ODs in 2018-2019, with a mean of 0.48 ODs per Thiessen polygon.
i.e., the death location was noted as “residence”, and the decedents’ home address, event address, and death address were all the same.
|Demographics of OD Victims||N||%||N||%||N||%||N||%||N||%||N||%|
|Total Phila. ODs||666||100.0||832||100.0||1139||100.0||1021||100.0||1070||100.0||4728||100.0|
|Target Area ODs *||100||15.0||105||12.6||160||14.0||115||11.3||150||14.0||630||13.3|
|N of ODs||N of TPs||%||Cumulative %|
|Accidental overdose deaths, 2018–2019||0.5||0.9||0||6||2.47||533|
|Proximity to all priority corners||13.53||2.68||9.77||22.18||0.74||533|
|Foreign language at home||1||0.5||−0.15||4.74||2.05||533|
|No truck street||0.26||0.44||0||1||1.07||533|
|Number of street segments||3.83||0.61||2||6||0.21||533|
|Number of trees||2.62||3.76||0||33||2.9||533|
|Presence of a park||0.1||0.3||0||1||2.68||533|
|Presence of a bridge||0.08||0.28||0||1||2.99||533|
|Calls for abandoned vehicles||2.65||3.47||0||27||2.71||533|
|Calls for graffiti||4.92||9.28||0||87||4.62||533|
|Calls for broken street light||0.87||1.35||0||9||2.48||533|
|Calls for vacant houses||1.73||3.31||0||27||3.23||533|
|Calls for vacant lot||1.5||2.93||0||24||3.71||533|
|Area (square ft)||73,478.49||34,305.69||20,439.41||312,922.9||2.37||533|
|Predicting Overdose Deaths||Model 1||Model 2||Model 3||Model 4|
|Constant||4.103 ***||0.743||3.126 **||1.123||−0.279||0.344||−13.625 ***||2.815|
|Drug Trafficking Organizations/Gangs|
|Priority corner||0.406 *||0.184||0.446 **||0.183||0.215||0.214||0.479 *||0.233|
|Proximity to all priority corners||−0.042 ***||0.011||−0.020||0.013||−0.031||0.019||−0.092 ***||0.03|
|Concentrated disadvantage||-||-||0.254 ***||0.082||0.246 ***||0.085||0.397 ***||0.132|
|Residential stability||-||-||0.155 *||0.064||0.158 *||0.07||0.108||0.099|
|Foreign language at home||-||-||−0.448 ***||0.094||−0.393 ***||0.103||−0.463 ***||0.143|
|Transit stops||-||-||-||-||0.396 ***||0.114||0.624 ***||0.156|
|No truck street||-||-||-||-||0.009||0.118||0.038||0.145|
|Number of street segments||-||-||-||-||0.257 ***||0.078||0.190 *||0.096|
|Number of trees||-||-||-||-||−0.029||0.017||0.015||0.02|
|Presence of a park||-||-||-||-||−0.187||0.203||−0.590 **||0.239|
|Presence of a bridge||-||-||-||-||0.189||0.142||0.457 **||0.182|
|Informal Social Control/Incivilities|
|Calls for abandoned vehicles||-||-||-||-||-||-||−0.047 *||0.023|
|Calls for graffiti||-||-||-||-||-||-||−0.005||0.007|
|Calls for broken street light||-||-||-||-||-||-||−0.056||0.044|
|Calls for vacant houses||-||-||-||-||-||-||0.055 ***||0.015|
|Calls for vacant lot||-||-||-||-||-||-||0.042 **||0.016|
|Rho||1.23 ***||1.20 ***||1.00 ***||−0.08|
|Overdispersion parameter||0.80 ***||0.81 ***||0.75 ***||0.57 ***|
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Johnson, N.J.; Roman, C.G.; Mendlein, A.K.; Harding, C.; Francis, M.; Hendrick, L. Exploring the Influence of Drug Trafficking Gangs on Overdose Deaths in the Largest Narcotics Market in the Eastern United States. Soc. Sci. 2020, 9, 202. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9110202
Johnson NJ, Roman CG, Mendlein AK, Harding C, Francis M, Hendrick L. Exploring the Influence of Drug Trafficking Gangs on Overdose Deaths in the Largest Narcotics Market in the Eastern United States. Social Sciences. 2020; 9(11):202. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9110202Chicago/Turabian Style
Johnson, Nicole J., Caterina G. Roman, Alyssa K. Mendlein, Courtney Harding, Melissa Francis, and Laura Hendrick. 2020. "Exploring the Influence of Drug Trafficking Gangs on Overdose Deaths in the Largest Narcotics Market in the Eastern United States" Social Sciences 9, no. 11: 202. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci9110202