Date of Project


Document Type

Honors Thesis

School Name

W. Fielding Rubel School of Business



Major Advisor

Dr. Frank Hutchins


Due to U.S. border policies limiting safe and lawful passage, cartels have developed an industry in the U.S.-Mexico border that supplies crossing services to migrants, utilizing coercive means to regulate the market and profiting from migrant’s desperation to enter the country. This study combines economic and ethnographic research to describe the human smuggling industry and the impact it has in the migrant journey. Scarcity, inelastic demand, black markets, and monopolies are economic concepts used to understand the operations of these services. Observational research and interviews conducted in the Sonoran Desert are also included to present this topic humanely. Background on cartels’ presence in Mexico and information on migration action over the Trump and Biden administrations are included to further theorize the connection between border policies and cartel activity.

Available for download on Saturday, October 19, 2024