NarcoData Provides Easy-to-Understand Review of Organized Crime in Mexico

With so much of their operations and interactions shrouded in secrecy, understanding the history and nature of Mexico’s drug cartels is difficult enough for even those closely following Mexican current events. It seems every month there’s a new territory being fought over or a new alliance being forged.

In an effort to help everyone (and anyone) better understand the world of Mexican organized crime, last week saw the launch of NarcoData, a data journalism project produced by Animal Político and El Daily Post which uses public information requests, interviews, media coverage and other sources to provide a useful analysis of the cartels over the last four decades.

From NarcoData:

Animal Político identified the need to explain the progress of organized crime and created NarcoData, an interactive site that presents a snapshot of the past four decades of criminal groups, so that readers can [understand], simply, how they have evolved. …

This project captures the recent history of organized crime in interactive visualizations which tell of the emergence of the cartels, their leaders, the conflicts between groups, their geographical expansion and their illegal activities.

The idea for this site came a year ago, when Animal Político obtained … through the transparency law, a document from the Attorney General’s Office showing all criminal cells operating in Mexico and the cartel whom they obey. The document also topples several “myths” created by public officials, such as the Federal District is free from organized crime or that criminal groups are losing power under the current federal government.

According to the research, nine cartels currently operate in Mexico: the Beltrán Leyva, the Jalisco Nueva Generación, the Sinaloa, the Juárez, the Tijuana, the Golfo, the Zetas, the Familia Michoacana and the Caballeros Templarios.

In an article published last Thursday, El Daily Post relied on the information presented by NarcoData to illustrate how, instead of seeing their power and influence wane under the presidency of Enrique Peña Nieto, the Sinaloa and Jalisco Nueva Generación cartels have been able to “thrive.”

“The three years that Peña Nieto has been in office have been enough for the Jalisco New Generation Cartel (JNGC) — which emerged in 2011 — to become the most powerful criminal organization in the nation, rivaling the Sinaloa Cartel which has long dominated the illicit drug trade,” wrote El Daily Post.

Another video quickly runs through the history of Mexico’s drug cartels, beginning with the Sinaloa and the Golfo back in the 1970s:

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