Criminal group presence and homicide rates
Guide: Zoom in on any part of the country to see the criminal groups present in each state. Hover over each circle to see the full group name and its strength of presence (smallest for “minor” presence, largest or “major” presence). Slide the time bar to select a year and quarter. In the background, each state’s shading indicates the average homicide rate in that quarter (hover over the state to see the exact number).
Note: The maps and visualizations presented here are optimized for desktop viewing and may not function correctly on mobile devices. They may be shared and embedded with attribution.
To view this map-timeline as an animated GIF, click here.
Group fragmentation is not the only dynamic driving violence: between the first quarter of 2008 and the first quarter of 2009 only one new group emerged. That group, the organization linked to (Teo), was only present in Baja California, and represented a major schism in the Arellano Felix Organization. There, an internal rupture contributed to a period of elevated homicide rates. At the same time, however, violence also spiked in Chihuahua, Durango, and Sinaloa without the presence of any new organizations. Violence increased among existing groups or was internal.
States with multiple smaller groups were not necessarily those with the worst levels of lethal violence. In 2010 and 2011 the number of groups present in Jalisco, Michoacán, and Mexico State steadily increased, as did homicide rates in those places, but levels of violence remained moderate compared to other moments in the drug war. In fact, Jalisco’s homicide rate at the end of 2010—when there were six groups present in the state, all with a strength of 2 or more—is nearly identical to the homicide rate in late 2015, when CJNG was the only group with significant statewide presence.
The map also shows that the trajectory of organized criminal groups is not homogenous across the country. Certain regions experienced splintering and subsequent consolidation, while others saw continual fragmentation. While there are substantially more organizations present in the map in 2013–2015, this increase comes primarily from the presence of remnant or splinter organizations in a few locations, especially Guerrero, Michoacan, and Tamaulipas. Those states would experience rising violence in the years following 2015.