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The Startling Toll Of Mexico’s Drug War

The Startling Toll Of Mexico’s Drug War
[Top photo: Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg/Getty Images]

Last fall in the Mexican state of Gurrero, 43 students went missing, alerting the world to the drug wars that have ravaged the country. Those students are now presumed dead. Mexican data visualization specialists Data4 give us a fuller picture of the tragedy through an interactive graphic that reveals the staggering number of people who have gone missing in the country over the past six years.

The detailed visualization shows each missing person, 23,271 in total, as a single tiny figure. Click on the figure to see all known information about the individual. The figures can be broken down into segments by dragging characteristics into boxes, dividing the missing by age, gender, body type, distinguishing features, and under which president they went missing.


The categories reveal some sobering trends. The number of people gone missing each year has grown steadily since 2008, when about 800 people went missing. Compare that to 2014, when nearly 5,000 people went missing. Data4 writes that the average age of a missing man is 29, while for women it’s 21, but there are 4,395 children under the age of 14 who are missing as well. Flipping the graphic from “Profile” to “Geography” will show you a map of the country with states color-coded by the greatest number of missing people. The map can be adjusted to see how the most dangerous locations have changed over time. Data4 notes that “50% disappeared in 28 of the 2,457 municipalities that constitute Mexico,” and three out of every 10 disappearances have occurred in the dangerous states of Guerrero and Tamaulipas. All these depressing numbers go to show that Mexico’s drug wars are only worsening with time. If that’s to change, we all need to start paying more attention.

See the interactive graphic here