A Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

START, CINA and CAOE develop search tool for combatting cartels in Mexico and the Northern Triangle


START, CINA and CAOE develop search tool for combatting cartels in Mexico and the Northern Triangle

November 20, 2019Emily Hilliard and Jessica Rivinius

Researchers from three Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence are working together to provide the U.S. Government with new open source tools that combat transnational criminal organizations (TCOs) and drug cartels in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, while protecting confidential sources and increasing international and domestic information sharing.

A new research brief describes the effort as well as the innovative Gazetteer Search Tool the team is developing for the project. It also details some initial findings about the more than 3,500 violent deaths in Guatemala. 

For the project, “Tracking Cartels: Exploiting Open Sources to Identify Trends,” the multidisciplinary team from the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START), the Criminal Investigations and Network Analysis Center (CINA), and the Center for Acceleration Operational Efficiency (CAOE) are examining foreign government documents, extracting geocoded information from news articles and scraping social media data. They use these data to feed a linked Gazetteer Search Tool and algorithm that can identify subtle trends a human analyst could miss using traditional analytic methods.