First Advisor

Shawn Smallman

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in International & Global Studies: Latin America and University Honors


International and Global Studies


Drug traffic -- Mexico, Drug traffic -- Colombia, Organized crime -- Mexico, Organized crime -- Colombia, Cartels -- Mexico, Drug control -- Mexico




Lessons from history in the Mexican Drug War demonstrate that the kingpin strategy, a model developed by the Colombian government in the 1980s, has led to failure for Mexico in its drug war. Because of the significant reduction in violent crime in Colombia, many policymakers have pointed to Colombia’s case as an example for Mexico. This idea, however, is concerning because the contexts in both countries differ. Therefore, the kingpin strategy should not be implemented to capture or kill the leader of the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación (CJNG), Nemesio Oseguera Ramos, alias "El Mencho," because the differences in the two nation's context suggest that this approach will not adequately address the insecurity and violence that Mexico struggles with. The kingpin strategy has created a cycle in which it promotes violence rather than reducing it, and leads to the destabilization or fragmentation of an organization and the emergence of dangerous new organizations.

This thesis asks how have the military intervention strategies of the Mexican government like the "Kingpin Strategy" and "Operation Jalisco" been overcome by the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación? I demonstrate the failures of the Mexican government, with aid from the U.S. government, to dismantle its cartels. At the same time, I identify the critical factors to the CJNG's success in adapting and maintaining its position in the ever-changing environment of Mexico's drug trade. With that, I argue that Colombia's model of the "Kingpin Strategy" cannot be exactly replicated nor should Mexico continue to use in its case because there are several reasons to be concerned of the comparison to the Colombian case. Mexico's long history has demonstrated that this model will ultimately fail.


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