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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 30, 2016

The Use of Social Media by Alleged Members of Mexican Cartels and Affiliated Drug Trafficking Organizations

Justin Nix , Michael R. Smith EMAIL logo , Matthew Petrocelli , Jeff Rojek and Victor M. Manjarrez


Focusing on Mexican cartels and affiliated drug trafficking organizations, this article examines how self-proclaimed cartel members use social media to further the criminal activities of their organizations. Employing an open-source, intelligence-driven methodology, the authors identified, followed, and mapped the connections between and among 75 alleged cartel members over a period of 4 months. Results indicated that cartel members actively use Facebook to plan, organize, and communicate in real-time. These findings provide tentative validation to the utility of using open-source social media platforms to study the social structure and operations of Mexican drug cartels. Implications for law enforcement, homeland security, and the intelligence enterprise are discussed.


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Published Online: 2016-7-30
Published in Print: 2016-9-1

©2016 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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