Cecilia Farfán-Méndez

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Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies
University of California San Diego

United States
Research Profile

I hold a Ph.D. in political science with a focus on international relations and organization theory. I am currently working on a book based on my dissertation, entitled "Beyond Cartels and Kingpins: The Business of Drug Trafficking Organizations". I examine criminal organizations in their own right rather than assuming they are unitary, homogenous actors that mostly traffic illicit drugs. I advance a mid-level theory that identifies subtypes of structures—hierarchies and wheel networks—and explains when and why DTOs pursue additional criminal enterprises, the methods used in money laundering and their different propensities for violence.

In the last two years I have also served as a researcher and member of the executive team for the project “Co-constructing Security Provision in Mexico: A Methodology and Action Plan from Communities to the State” that seeks to develop local security agendas with community, civil and state actors in four cities severely affected by organized crime in Mexico: Acapulco, Apatzingán, Guadalupe and Tijuana.

While at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies I also help coordinate the U.S-Security Cooperation Taskforce that has prepared a whitepaper for Mexico's incoming administration to help ensure that policymakers are informed and prepared to continue cooperation efforts in a difficult phase in the bilateral relationship, particularly amid emerging challenges related to epidemic levels of opium use, the rise of new organized crime groups and violent crimes targeting ordinary citizens in Mexico.

Latin America, Mexico, United States
English, Spanish

Beyond Cartels and Kingpins: The Business of Drug Trafficking Organizations (Book manuscript in preparation)
The Structure of Drug Trafficking Organizations and Money Laundering Practices:
A Risk Appetite Hypothesis (under review).
Explaining Counterinsurgency Success: Family Ties and Selective Incentives in India’s COIN Campaigns. With Amit Ahuja (under review).
Más allá de la guerra contra las drogas: violencia y seguridad en México en Seguridad humana y violencia crónica en México: nuevas lecturas y propuestas desde abajo (Book chapter, forthcoming).

Online Publications:
Rising suicides in Mexico expose the mental health toll of living with extreme, chronic violence.” The Conversation. 08/2018. Reprinted in Salon, The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Univision, NPR Latino USA.
“10 Years at War: Rethinking Drug Trafficking.” Open Democracy. 02/2017
“Who Buys Stolen Oil? The Cases of Mexico and Turkey." Trends Research. 08/2015
“Colombia Is Not Mexico.” Huffington Post Latino Voices. 12/2014