Cecilia Farfan Mendez holds a Ph.D. in Political Science with a focus on International Relations and Organization Theory from UC Santa Barbara. She is a postdoctoral scholar whose current research examines criminal organizations in their own right rather than assuming they are unitary, homogenous actors that mostly traffic illicit drugs. Her work explores the business models of organized crime, when and why drug trafficking organizations pursue additional criminal enterprises, and their different propensities for violence.
She currently coordinates the U.S.-Mexico Security Cooperation Taskforce, led by USMEX in partnership with the Justice in Mexico Program of University of San Diego, and the Mexico Security Initiative at the University of Texas. The Taskforce brings together scholars and current and former government officials from both countries to offer concrete policy recommendations 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.
From 2016 to 2018 she served as a researcher and member of the academic coordination team for the project “Co-constructing Security Provision in Mexico: A Methodology and Action Plan from Communities to the State” that developed local security agendas with community, civil and state actors in four cities severely affected by organized crime. The project was funded by the U.K’s Economic and Social Research Council and Mexico’s National Council on Science and Technology.