How Drug Cartels Conquered Mexico [MAPS]

It is now possible to see the conquest of drug cartels over Mexico.

Viridiana Rios and Michele Coscia of Harvard University created a program called MOGO that searched specialised blogs, local newspapers and Google News for references to the different cartels, their locations and their influence between 1999 and 2011.

The results show how between 2006 — when Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared an all-out war against drug traffickers in the country — and when he left office in 2012, the cartels only got stronger. Meanwhile, more than 100,000 Mexicans were killed.

Legalization of Marijuana in Colorado and Washington and the capture of Sinaloa kingpin “El Chapo Guzman” may alter the landscape, but cartels are still deeply embedded in Mexico after the 2000s.

1992: The Tijuana cartel began with a sole corridor into the U.S.

2000: Over the next decade several cartels fought for Tijuana

2006: The Tijuana cartel had established control of the corridor and began expanding




1991: The Gulf cartel, which began smuggling cocaine in the 80s, was worth about $US10 billion by the 90s

Source: Jordan, David C. (1999). Drug politics: dirty money and democracies. University of Oklahoma Press. pp. 288.

2006: It expanded inland and south over the next 15 years

2007: Gulf activity increased as Calderon's crackdown progressed




2005: Los Zetas, created in 1999 as the military wing of the Gulf cartel, were ready to expand


2007: Their ruthless efficiency led to rapid growth of influence



2010: Los Zetas broke off from the Gulf cartel to go it alone

2006: La Familia cartel was allied to the Gulf Cartel -- as part of Los Zetas -- but broke off on their own



2009: Allied with Sinaloa, La Familia became one of the strongest and fastest growing cartels in Mexico

2010: But the killing of its founder and leader Nazario Moreno González in December 2010 has led some to believe that the cartel has been disbanded

1993: The Juárez cartel, also known as the Vicente Carrillo Fuentes Organisation, was founded

1997: They held the area around Tijuana for a couple of years

2007: A turf war exploded after 2001 when Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzmán, kingpin of the Sinaloa cartel, escaped prison



2010: The ongoing feud has been largely responsible for the unprecedented violence in Ciudad Juárez, which is a major drug smuggling route into the U.S.

Source: 'Mexico's Drug War'

1991: The Sinaloa cartel, now Mexico's most powerful, began with drug lord Pedro Avilés Pérez in the late 1960s

2001: Its leader Joaquin 'El Chapo' Guzmán escaped prison and began fighting for drug routes


2006: The Sinaloa cartel had eliminated all competition along the Arizona border



2009: The cartel has a presence in 17 Mexican states

2010: One U.S. law enforcement official in Mexico called the Sinaloa cartel 'the most powerful drug trafficking organisation in the world.'


2005: Arturo Beltrán Leyva, one of four brothers, led powerful groups of assassins in northeastern Mexico for the Sinaloa Cartel



2008: Alfredo Beltrán Leyva, a major smuggler for the Sinaloa cartel, was captured and his brothers blamed El Chapo

2009: The cartel was knocked down when Arturo Beltrán Leyva was killed by Mexican Marines in a shoot-out

2010: But the cartel survived, as it joined Los Zetas to engage in a violent turf war near the southern tip of Texas against an alliance of of the Gulf, Sinaloa and La Familia cartels

And that's how Mexico came to look like this in 2011

And here's the level of violence in 2012

The battlefield that is Mexico is fuelled by U.S. demand for drugs

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