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Cecilia Farfán-Méndez

Postdoctoral fellow in international relations, UC San Diego

Residency: July 2017 – June 2018

Research Project:Beyond Cartels and Kingpins: The Business of Drug Trafficking Organizations

Research Interests:drug trafficking organizations, organized non-state violence, diversification of criminal activities, money laundering methods, security bureaucracies in Latin America


Cecilia Farfán-Méndez holds a Ph.D. in political science with a focus on international relations and organization theory from UC Santa Barbara. Her book project examines criminal organizations in their own right rather than assuming they are unitary, homogenous actors that mostly traffic illicit drugs. It advances 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 addition to her book project, Farfán-Méndez currently serves 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. The project is funded by the U.K’s Economic and Social Research Council and Mexico’s National Council on Science and Technology.

Farfán-Méndez received her bachelor’s degree in international relations from the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México, and holds a master’s degree in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. She has also been a recipient of several research fellowships including the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States, the Fulbright Program and the UC Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation.