How do violent non-state actors gain and sustain social legitimacy and authority in the communities where they operate? Governments around the world are dealing with the threat posed by criminal organizations (COs) that have established themselves as the de facto authority in communities, neighborhoods, and entire regions. Despite this profound security threat the local governance practices of COs remain under theorized. This project addresses the knowledge gap by investigating the relationship and governance arrangements between residents and leaders of COs. Through a comparative case study of three inner-city communities in Jamaica, this research project identifies the governance arrangements and relational dynamics that are most likely to create conditions in which residents will voluntarily support the criminal organization.