Journalistic mapping or data visualization critique assignment

Mexico’s biggest cartel is leaderless and drug violence maybe about to intensify

Yahoo Finance, Business Insider: October 29, 2016

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In mid June 150 armed men raided and looted homes leaving several dead in the La Tuna, Mexico. The men that perpetrated the raid are suspected to be involved with the Beltran Leyva Organization (BLO), a rival to the Sinaloa drug cartel. One of the homes subject to the raid in La Tuna was Consuelo Lora, who is the mother of the infamous Sinaloa cartel chief, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. The author states BLO might be trying to take over the Sinaloa cartel’s turf now that Guzman is back in prison, as are most of the other cartel leaders.

Alfredo Beltran Guzman, “El Chapo’s” nephew, is the suspected leader of the raid in La Tuna. Alfredo Beltran Guzman is also the son of  Alfredo Beltran Leyva, the cartel leader of BLO who is now in prison.

At one time BLO and the Sinaloa cartel were allies, however around 2008 a member of BLO was arrested at the same time as “El Chapo’s” son was released from incarceration. BLO essentially thought the Sinaloa cartel betrayed them and the cartels split and have been enemies ever since.

The Sinaloa cartel also is at war with the Jalisco New Generation cartel (CJNG) because members reportedly kidnapped “El Chapo’s” sons. An organized release between high ranking cartel brought his sons home safe, but it sparked yet another deep seeded hatred between the Sinaloa cartel and CJNG.

With “El Chapo” in prison, it seems the drug cartels of Mexico are trying to capitalize on the cartels missing leadership and drug turf is ripe for the picking.

The article displays a map from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) which depicts the areas of Mexico controlled by the different cartels. The map communicates the turf delineations effectively. The map even notes there will be updates as cartel intelligence changes. The map is an interesting piece of data and does provoke an intellectual response and I wanted to read more because it seems like these feuds keep escalating.

As the article continues the most compelling data is revealed in a graph that shows monthly homicides in Tijuana from 2013-2016. This piece of information definitely communicates effectively and strikes emotional and intellectual responses. The homicide rate Tijuana is experiencing in a month is what some areas in the U.S. experience in a year. This piece of data definitely conveyed the drug cartel wars in Mexico as nothing short of deadly.


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