For Australia, the emergence of Mexican drug cartels presents significant policymaking, intelligence and strategic challenges. The size of these operations, their resource base and the fluid nature of dark network structures makes these enterprise syndicates a highly versatile and resilient opponent. This paper will provide an analysis of the organisational levels of dark networks in dealing with Mexican drug cartels and explores how these profit-seeking transnational actors form and operate including their motivations and modus operandi. It will also address the problematic nature of dark networks and the importance of robust intelligence collection and analysis capabilities to better prioritise border protection responses as well as to increase the ability of the security sector to target dispersed ‘webs’ of illicit affiliations, with a focus on the Asia-Pacific region.


Mexican drug cartels, transnational organised crime, intelligence-led policing, national security