Stratfor has tracked Mexico’s drug cartels for over a decade. For most of that time, our annual forecasts focused on the fortunes and prospects of each trafficking organization. But as Mexican organized crime groups have gradually fractured and fallen apart — a process we refer to as balkanization — we have had to refine the way we think about them.
The cartels are no longer a handful of large groups carving out territory across Mexico, but a collection of many different smaller, regionally based networks. So, rather than exploring the outlook of every individual faction, we now take them as loose gatherings centered on certain core areas of operation: Tamaulipas, Tierra Caliente and Sinaloa.