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State Charts

State level criminal group presence through time

Guide: One chart for each state showing the presence and evolution of all groups in the state, annually from 2007 to 2015. Smaller squares indicate lighter presence statewide; larger squares indicate heavier presence (annual averages of monthly presence indicators ranging from 0 to 3).

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.


Specific local dynamics can be hard to capture with big-picture data. The chart for Nayarit, for example, shows the consistent presence of the BLO, with equivalent strength to the CDS and CJNG. During this period, however, the administration of Roberto Sandoval reportedly colluded with the state’s BLO faction (now known as the H-2 organization), and subsequent local reports suggest it became dominant in Nayarit. What the chart does show, is that, despite this collusion, no single organization was dominant in the state, a finding that aligns with qualitative analysis about dynamics in the state.

The state chart for Veracruz offers perhaps the most revealing look at a changing criminal landscape that had profound implications for security. There, the appearance of the fully independent Zetas in 2010 (split off from Cartel del Golfo) and CJNG in 2011 help explain why the administration of Javier Duarte (2010-2016) was particularly fraught even as overall levels of violence remained low (though invisible violence, such as disappearances, were high). The arrival of those two groups at the start of Duarte’s government created a context in which repressive security strategies and corruption would intertwine, leading to scores of human rights abuses and a particularly dark moment in the drug war.

The charts are also useful for understanding fragmentation. In Tamaulipas, there are between 8 and 9 groups present from 2013 to 2015 – but nearly all are related in some way, having splintered (with the exception of CDS and CJNG) from the Gulf Cartel or the Zetas—themselves previously one organization. In Guerrero, on the other hand, the chart shows fragmentation without a core lineage, a factor that might help explain high violence in the state.