Climate-generated stress has been linked to multiple socio-political outcomes, many of which are violent. Scarcity is a key mechanism behind these violent outcomes. I argue that climate-induced scarcity creates conditions for organized criminal groups to capture the markets of legal commodities. Scarcity drives prices up, creating incentives for criminal groups to capture the production and distribution of these commodities with pernicious consequences. Using qualitative evidence for the abalone shellfish market in two South African provinces, I trace the process connecting climate-induced scarcity to price changes, to criminal market capture. In doing so, I make three contributions: I propose a new theory about the climate drivers behind the behavior of organized crime by bringing together scholarship on climate and conflict and criminal violence; I extend research on organized crime from markets of illicit goods into markets for licit ones; and I provide evidence suggestive of brokerage as a specific mechanism to illegally control a market.