Contract Killings, Drug and Weapons Smuggling, and Corruption: Their Effect on Border Culture and Literature

Open Access
Miller, Danielle Haney
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Julia Cuervo Hewitt, Thesis Supervisor
  • John Lipski, Honors Advisor
  • U.S-Mexico border
  • border security
  • violent drug-trafficking organizations
  • border literature
In the Introduction I provide a chronological overview of key historic events, which have shaped Mexican history and impacted the transformation of the U.S-Mexico border region into what it is today. The section on Ni-nis and Narcocorridos provides insight into the demographics of Ciudad Juarez’s population and the cultural impact drug cartels have on the youth population. One out of four murders in Mexico occurs in Ciudad Juarez. Many experts believe that the significant increase of violent crime in Mexican border cities carries over to U.S. border cities known as ‘spillover violence.’ I analyze FBI Uniform Crime Report Statistics and discuss the factors involved in recent crime trends over the past three years. I will give a brief overview of the current security challenges U.S. and Mexican law enforcement agencies face in curtailing operational capabilities of Violent Drug-Trafficking Organizations. I will break down the four pillars of the Mérida Initiative, which is the Mexican-led, U.S. financed effort to target VDTOs. In the second chapter I introduce the genre of border literature and discuss the characteristics of the fictional Mexican detective story. Through their literary works border writers expose and critique societal problems prevalent in Mexican border cities such as drug and weapons smuggling, police corruption, and prostitution. Border writers explore these complex, yet serious societal problems through social critique, satire, and dramatization to make their stories appealing to readers. In the third chapter I analyze four short stories by popular border writers Gabriel Trujillo Muñoz, Héctor Daniel Gómez Nieves, and Carlos Martín Gutiérrez. I study the plot and nuances of their stories to analyze how they perceive, represent, and interpret the tumultuous situation on the border. This analysis compares the cultural representation of border literature to available factual documentation I presented in the Introduction. This comparison highlights the ways in which these border writers portray the array of social, economic, and political problems in a broad context. I then draw out key similarities and differences between the fictional short stories and the themes I discussed in the introduction.