Using Google To Track Mexican Drug Cartels
November 02, 2012

Two Harvard graduate students have written an algorithm that tracks the growth of Mexican drug cartels through Google.

The code, MOGO (Making Order Using Google as an Oracle) sifts through Google data to track activity and growth of cartels over the past decade. Here's the abstract of MOGO:

"A tool that uses Web content to obtain quantitative information about the mobility and modus operandi of criminal groups, information that would otherwise require the operation of large scale, expensive intelligence exercises to be obtained. Exploiting indexed reliable sources such as online newspapers and blogs, we use unambiguous query terms and Google's search engine to identify the areas of operation of criminal organizations, and to extract information about the particularities of their mobility patters. We apply our tool to Mexican criminal organizations to identify their market strategies, their preferred areas of operation, and the way in which these have evolved over the last two decades.."

Here are some of MOGO's findings,

Zetas growth over the past decade:

Table 1: The main features extracted for each drug tracking organization.
Figure 4: The results distributions per tracker per year, for the most popular seven trackers.