After two years of declines, homicides in Mexico have seen a disconcerting increase.

That uptick in deadly violence is in part a result of the ongoing fragmentation of Mexico’s drug cartels and criminal groups, and nowhere has that dynamic been more prominent than in southwest Mexico.

The region is a focal point for drug production — opium in Guerrero, and methamphetamine and marijuana in Michoacan — and its location as a remote outpost on Mexico’s west coast make it a prime area for drug trafficking and other illicit activities.

The Mexican government has long been unresponsive to security concerns in the area, and citizens there have, in recent years, stepped into provide security the state could not or would not provide.