Charting Out the Digital Ecosystem of Gangs in the U.S. and Mexico

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This article is based on a research project conducted by the SecDev Group in collaboration with the U.S. National Institute for Justice (NIJ) in San Diego. The article demonstrates the methodology designed and employed by SecDev in order to locate, analyze, track, and monitor transnational Latino gangs and cartels operating in the United States, Mexico, and wider Latin America. The article provides an insightful look at the data collection methods and analysis, including social network analysis, digital forensics, behavioural analysis, and overall framework utilized during the project.

This article will be of use to PVE researchers and practitioners interested in tracking extremist and terrorist groups active on social media, and those interested in using Twitter in particular. The rapid digital penetration of social media over the past decade has allowed for novel ways of tracking criminal and extremist activities online. This article sheds light on some of the potential methods and applications. 

Julian Way and Robert Muggah

April 2016