Date of Graduation

Spring 2012


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

John Rose


Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCO), Mexican drug trafficking organizations (DTO), terrorism, Mexico futures, United States and Mexico policy options

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


Mexican transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) are a present and growing threat to Mexico, the United States, and the greater hemispheric region. Increasingly, these groups have resorted to tactics typically utilized by terrorist organizations including targeted assassinations, beheadings, car bombs, and killing members of the media. While Mexico has borne the brunt of this violence, spill-over violence should cause concern for U.S. law enforcement and policy makers. To determine if Mexican TCOs threaten the U.S., a qualitative analysis on the capabilities of these organizations was conducted. Additionally, violent crime statistics were analyzed to determine if these groups were increasing their presence in the U.S. The results suggest border violence may be spilling over; more violent crimes occur closer to the border region compared to cities situated further away. To improve the situation in Mexico, and to prevent violence from spilling over into the U.S., a comprehensive and hemispheric-wide approach must be implemented. Key aspects of this strategy include institution-building, counter-transnational criminal organization policies, and diplomacy.


© James Scott Fifield

Campus Only