Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice


Criminal Justice

First Reader/Committee Chair

Bichler, Gisela


Not only has gang membership been expanding, but the formation of cooperative ties with Mexican drug trafficking organizations (MDTOs) has been increasing as well. Collaborative relationships with MDTOs appear to be the driving force behind the continuing gang expansion and its subsequent effects. Using social network analysis, this study examines the linkage between MDTOs and American-based gang activity and the potential influence that MDTOs may have in U.S. drug market through their associations with American street gangs. Findings show the MDTOs to be extensively linked to each other by their affiliations with U.S. gangs, and a high level of connectivity exists between U.S. gangs and MDTOs. In addition, various centrality measures indicate the Sinaloa Cartel to have the broadest reach into the illicit drug market, as this cartel is affiliated with the highest number of gangs. The current study provides support for the continuance of multijurisdictional collaboration, and reaffirms the need for law enforcement to continue to explore the non-traditional approaches to crime and intelligence analysis.