Author Biography

Nathan P. Jones is an Assistant Professor of Security Studies at Sam Houston State University, a Small Wars Journal: El Centro Fellow and Rice University Baker Institute Drug Policy and Mexico Center non-resident scholar. His areas of interest include drug violence in Mexico, drug trafficking organizations, social network analysis, border security, and the political economy of homeland security. Professor Jones is the author of Georgetown University Press's peer reviewed book Mexico's Illicit Drug Networks and the State Reaction (2016), which was based on a year of fieldwork in Mexico funded by the Institute for Global Conflict and Cooperation. He has recently published with the peer-reviewed journals Trends in Organized Crime; Studies in Conflict and Terrorism; Media, War, & Conflict; and the Journal of Strategic Security.

Dr. John P. Sullivan was a career police officer specializing in emergency operations, counterterrorism and intelligence. He is an Instructor in the Safe Communities Institute (SCI) at the Sol Price School of Public Policy - University of Southern California, Senior El Centro Fellow at Small Wars Journal, an Adjunct Researcher on society and global crime at the VORTEX Research Group in Bogotá, Colombia, and Member of the Scientific Advisory Board of the Global Observatory of Transnational Criminal Networks. He retired as a lieutenant with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department after over 30 years for service. His doctoral dissertation at the Open University of Catalonia examined the impact of transnational crime on sovereignty. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in government from the College of William and Mary and a Master of Arts in urban affairs and policy analysis from the New School for Social Research. Sullivan received a lifetime achievement award from the National Fusion Center Association in November 2018 for his contributions to the national network of fusion centers.



Subject Area Keywords

Energy security, Gangs and criminal organizations, Governance and rule of law, Latin America, Mexico, Natural resources and security, Security studies, Social movements, Transnational crime


Criminal cartels and gangs dominate the illicit economy in Mexico. These organized crime groups challenge the solvency (specifically capacity and legitimacy) of the state in Mexico. Organized crime in Mexico is involved in a range of activities including extortion, drug trafficking, human trafficking, and petroleum theft. Criminal cartels, often called drug trafficking organizations, have diversified into other illicit activities specifically petroleum theft. This paper provides an overview of the rise of a specialized organized criminal entity: huachicoleros. Huachicoleros specialize in fuel theft and like their narco counterparts use corruption and violence to protect their illicit market. The rise of Cártel de Santa Rosa Lima (CSRL) is discussed as a salient case study. The volatile mix of corruption, violence, and economic instability will be assessed, and government and national oil company (PEMEX) response is discussed.

Keywords: Criminal Cartels, Cártel de Santa Rosa de Lima (CSRL), Energy Security, Organized Crime, Petroleum Theft, Fuel Theft, Huachicoleros