Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Marcos Mendoza

Relational Format



On December 20th, 2018—less than three weeks into new president Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s term—the Mexican federal government initiated a crackdown on fuel theft, or huachicoleo. The crackdown was intensive and nationwide. Its implementation was costly: gas stations throughout the country shut down as fuel pipelines were closed, the newly established National Guard was deployed to protect fuel infrastructure, and cartels threatened acts of terror against the government. The crackdown ended in April of 2019, with the López Obrador administration calling it a success. The overarching goal of this study is to test that assertion empirically by investigating the crackdown’s effects on Mexican politics, the national economy, and organized crime. To that end, this study uses a mixed-method approach to determine how the crackdown impacted Mexico as well as investigate what it means in the broader context of Mexican policy and public security. This study argues that while the crackdown was successful politically, it fell short of accomplishing its goals for public security and was an expensive enterprise for the Mexican government. Furthermore, this study argues that the crackdown advantaged transnational criminal corporations in Mexico via a disproportionate impact on small criminal groups, with whom large criminal corporations compete.



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