This paper describes and analyzes the operation of "crime courts" deployed by criminal gangs in the outskirts of São Paulo. I argue that the spread of this device, now "institutionalized" in the territories studied, only became possible after the "criminal world" had ascended to the position of legitimate legislative body among a minor, but relevant part of the residents of city suburbs. This phenomenon refers to at least three decades of changes occurring in work, family, religion and collective action spheres of, pillars of social life in the city suburbs. Mapping these changes and supported by an ethnography conducted between 2005 and 2009, I argue that the internal adjustment devices of the "criminal world" would be the central factors explaining the drop in homicide rates in São Paulo, notable in the decade of 2000, and claimed publicly by government and police.
urban periphery; crime; murder; PCC; São Paulo