I have been arguing for years that organized crime has an inherently political component. Certainly I am not alone, and researchers far superior to me have made the same point--for example, Charles Tilly and James Buchanan. However, mainstream political reporting seems to have been catching onto this over the past few months. I have rounded up a few of these posts that will be of interest to long-time readers. See also my working paper on violence following targeted leadership removals in Mexico.
"Are Mexican Drug Lords the Next 'Terrorist Targets'?" by Douglas Lucas. Lucas accurately describes the framing of drug lords as terrorists to be a form of "mission creep."
Peter Andreas responds to Moisés Naim's essay in "Measuring the Mafia-State Menace." I was not aware of Andreas's work until Daniel Solomon recently shared it on Twitter but now I have several of his books (including this one) on my reading list.
Although somewhat sensationalized, Christian Caryl also has a nice overview piece on global organized crime at Foreign Policy: "Mob Rule." Some of the statistics there seem questionable but the overall point--that students of politics should pay attention to organized crime--is a valid and important one.