Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Lisa Koch

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Rights Information

© 2018 Ande E Troutman

OCLC Record Number



This thesis investigated how the Mexican cartels have taken advantage of loop holes in U.S. policy to grow their drug market and power. Three policies were examined to demonstrate how the cartels adapted to policy changes and continued to thrive and expand. The first policy analyzed was the North American Free Trade Agreement, which opened up the borders between Mexico and the United States. The next policy investigated was the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996, which instituted harsher punishments for illegal immigration and caused mass deportation. The final policy examined was the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994. This act outlawed automatic weapons and put restrictions on high capacity magazines. The research found that through these three policies, the Mexican cartels were able to physically export more drugs into the United States, expand their influence and recruitment of immigrants for labor, and obtain more guns to carry out violence.