Gabriella E. Sanchez

Associate Director for Research and Assistant Professor, National Security Studies Institute – University of Texas El Paso


Dr. Gabriella E. Sanchez (Ph.D., Arizona State University) is the associate director for research at the National Security Studies Institute at the University of Texas El Paso. Her area of expertise is the social organization of transnational crime, her work focusing on the dynamics of human smuggling and drug trafficking organizations operating across borders, their interactions with other criminal groups and their decision making processes.  Prior to UTEP she held positions at the Catholic University of America in Washington DC, Monash University’s Border Crossing Observatory in Melbourne, Australia, Wellesley College, and the University of Maryland’s Consortium for the Study of Terrorism (START).  Dr. Sanchez is also a Fulbright and US State Department National Security Education Scholar who has conducted extensive ethnographic research on smuggling and trafficking hubs among traffickers, smugglers and their clients.

A socio-cultural anthropologist by training, Dr. Sanchez is the author of “Human Smuggling and Border Crossings” (Routledge, 2015) which is the result of her work among human and drug smuggling facilitators on the US Mexico Border. Her book was a finalist to the International Association for the Study of Organized Crime 2015 Book of the Year Award. Her current project explores the triggers for market diversification among drug and human smuggling groups on the US Mexico Border, including the participation of women and minors as smuggling facilitators.  A former criminal investigator, she also has extensive experience as a consultant for US federal and state agencies and global NGOs.