Gabriella Sanchez

Research Fellow
  • Phone: +39 055 4685 782
  • Gabriella is the lead of the migrant smuggling research cluster at the MPC. She is an ethnographer interested in the everyday dynamics of smuggling facilitation, human trafficking and organized criminal activities along the migrant trail. A former criminal investigator, she has extensive experiencing developing partnerships with law enforcement, NGOs and para-governmental organizations. At the MPC she is currently coordinating projects with UNODC, OHCHR, and IOM developing research initiatives aimed to increase the understanding of smuggling and its ties to humanitarian responses, gender and the roles of other non-traditional actors. She is the author of Human Smuggling and Border Crossings (Routledge 2016) and co-editor of the 2018 Special Issue on Migrant Smuggling of the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences.

    Research topics: migrant smuggling, human trafficking, border security, illicit markets, transnational organized crime, drug trafficking
    Geographic areas: US Mexico Border, Latin America, Mexico, Central America, North Africa and the Middle East
    Books and special issues of academic journals
  • Zhang, Sheldon, Gabriella Sanchez and Luigi Achilli, L. eds. (2018). Special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science on migrant smuggling 676(1).
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (2016).Border Crossings and Human Smuggling. Routledge Series on Borders and Crime. Routledge. London, UK. (Nominated for Best Book of the Year, International Association for the Study of Organized Crime).

    Refereed journal articles
  • Sanchez, Gabriella and Sheldon Zhang (2018), “Rumors, Encounters, Collaborations, Survival: The Migrant Smuggling-Drug Trafficking Nexus in the US Southwest”, Annals of the American Academy of Political Sciences, edited by Zhang, S., Sanchez, G. and Achilli, L., Special Issue on Migrant Smuggling, 676(1): 135-151.
  • Zhang, Sheldon, Gabriella Sanchez and Luigi Achilli, L. (2018), “Crimes of Solidarity in Mobility: alternative views on migrant smuggling”, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Special Issue on Migrant Smuggling. 676(1):6-15.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (2017), “Beyond the Matrix of Oppression: Reframing human smuggling through intersectionality-informed approaches”, Theoretical Criminology, edited byPaik, L. and Parmar, A. Special Issue on Intersectionality and Criminology, 21(1): 46-56.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (2017), “Critical Perspectives on Clandestine Migration Facilitation: and Overview of Migrant Smuggling Research”, Journal of Human Security and Migration, 5(1): 9-27.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (2016), “‘It’s all in their Brain’: Constructing the Figure of the Trafficking Victim on the US Mexico Border”, Anti-Trafficking Review, 7: 97-114.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (2016) “Women as Human Smuggling Facilitators: The case of the US Southwest”, Manwaring, Cetta and Brigden, Noelle, eds. Geopolitics, Special Issue on Irregular Migration and Brokerage, 21(2):387- 406.
  • Provine, Mary and Gabriella Sanchez (2011), “Suspecting Immigrants: Exploring Links between Racialized Anxieties and Expanded Police Powers in Arizona”, Policing and Society 21(4) 2011: 468-479.

  • Book chapters
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (2018), “Portrait of a Human Smuggler: Race, Class and gender among Facilitators of Irregular Migration on the US Mexico Border”, in: Palma, A., Vasquez, Y. and Bosworth, M. eds. Enforcing the Boundaries of Belonging: Race, Criminal Justice and Migration Control. Oxford University Press, London. pp. 29-42.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella. (2018), “‘This Time I Am Going to Cross!’: Fighting Entrapment Processes Through the Provision of Human Smuggling Services on the US–Mexico Border”, in: Gerard, A. and Vecchio, F., eds. Tracing Responsibility: the entrapment of asylum seekers in precarious livelihoods. Palgrave McMillan.pp.35-155.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella and Nicholas Natividad (2017), “Reframing Migrant Smuggling as a Form of Knowledge: The View from the US Mexico Border”, in: Cengiz Guznay and Nina Witjes, Eds. Border Politics: Defining Spaces of Governance and Forms of Transgression. Springer, Vienna. pp. 67-84.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella. (2016), “Smuggling as a Spectacle: Irregular Migration and Coyotes in Contemporary US Latino Popular Culture”, in: Aldama, Frederick, ed. The Routledge Handbook of Latino Pop Culture. New York, Routledge. pp. 413-423.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (2015). “Human Smuggler Facilitators in the US Southwest”, in: Sharon Pickering and Julie Ham, eds. Routledge Handbook on Crime and International Migration. Routledge. London, UK. pp. 275- 286.
  • Provine, Mary and Gabriella Sanchez (2012), “Suspecting Immigrants: Exploring Links between Racialized Anxieties and Expanded Police Powers in Arizona”, in: Leanne Weber, Ben Bowling, eds. Stop and Search: Police Power in Global Contexts. London, UK: Routledge.

  • Research and policy reports
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (Forthcoming). Women in Smuggling. Research Report. Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Vienna.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella. (Forthcoming). “Mexico”. In: Anna Triandafyllidou and Marie McAuliffe, eds., Global Report on Migrant Smuggling vol. II, International Organization for Migration, Geneva.
  • Nicot, Morgane, Kopp, Bianca, Sanchez, Gabriella, eds. (Forthcoming). When Smuggling Goes Wrong: From a Crime Against State Sovereignty to a Crime Against Persons. UNODC, Vienna.
  • Achilli, Luigi and Gabriella Sanchez (2017). “Methodological Approaches in Human Smuggling Research: Documenting Irregular Migration Facilitation in the Americas and the Middle East”. Special Issue: Measuring Irregular Migration Innovative Data Practices. Migration Policy and Practice Journal 7(2): 21-25. International Organization for Migration, Berlin.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella, Garcia, Blanca, Loera, Fernando, Zavala, Carlos (2017). Neither criminals nor illegals: boys, girls and adolescents in the migrant smuggling market on the US Mexico Border. DHIA-University of Texas, El Paso.
  • Achilli, Luigi and Sanchez, Gabriella (2017). What does it mean to disrupt the business models of people smugglers?. Migration Policy Centre Policy Brief no. 9. European University Institute, Florence.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (2016). “Human Smuggling trends in the Americas”. Lackzo, Frank, ed., Data and Research on Human Smuggling: A Global Report. International Organization for Migration. Geneva, Switzerland.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (2016). “Crossing Borders: Migrant Smuggling Organizations on the US Mexico Border”. Research in Brief Series, Center for Law and Human Behavior, University of Texas at El Paso, Texas.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (2016). “Crime and Kidnapping involving migrants transiting through Central America and Mexico”. Fatal Journeys Vol. 2: Identification and Tracing of Dead and Missing Migrants. International organization of Migration, Geneva.
  • Sanchez, Gabriella (2015). “Forensic Processes Applicable to the Human Remains of Border Crossers”. International Committee of the Red Cross, Washington, D.C.

  • Blogs, webcasts, podcasts, media coverage/references
  • What do we know about migrant smuggling at the US Mexico Border? A Talking Migration Podcast
  • Smugglers, Inc.: a voyage through the fraught, life-changing, and totally route $35 billion human-smuggling business.
  • Batman in Vienna: choosing how to confront migrant smuggling
  • Underage human smugglers: the story behind Mexico’s “circuit children”
  • Clearing Up Misconceptions on Cross-Border Migrant Smugglers: An Interview with Gabriella Sanchez
  • On the migrant trail: professor studies human smuggling organizations.