Gabriella Sanchez is fellow at the Migration Policy Centre (MPC) of the European University Institute, where she leads the Migrant Smuggling research agenda.

A socio-cultural anthropologist with a background in law enforcement, her work focuses on the study of irregular migration facilitation and the crimes often associated with it (migrant smuggling, human trafficking, kidnapping, extortion, scams, forgery, fraud, transnational/transborder organizations, corruption). Her work (carried out in the Americas, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe) is recognized for relying on a community-centred, human rights approach for the study of mobility. It draws from direct interactions and research contributions from smuggling facilitators and seeks to reduce the research gaps between the experiences of people on the migration pathway and the policy responses that target them.

She has held academic posts at the University of Maryland, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Wellesley College, Monash University, The Catholic University of America, and the University of Texas in El Paso. 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. She is affiliated with the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime and is a co-editor for Border Criminologies, based at Oxford University's Criminology Department. Currently she is part of a US-Mexico border based initiative on young people's roles in the facilitation of migrant journeys, conducts fieldwork as part of a EU-funded project on migrant smuggling in Libya and Tunisia, and is working on a new book project on the emergence of smuggling as a global policing practice.

Research programmes

Research Interests

 migrant smuggling, human trafficking, border security, illicit markets, transnational organized crime, drug trafficking

Research projects