Reynosa and Tijuana are home to thousands of maquiladoras. Due to low labor cost, tax advantages and direct access to US markets, hundreds of Fortune 500 corporations have production facilities just across the border in Mexico.
Even with the escalating numbers of drug cartel violence and kidnappings in the region, it is business as usual for most factories located along the border. Some businesses have resorted to moving management personnel and executives across the border to avoid the risk of kidnapping.
When executives need to visit the production facilities in Mexico they often use the services of San Antonio based Diplomat Armored Rentals. A company that rents armored vehicles to people and businesses when they are traveling to Mexico. “Having an armored vehicle makes our clients feel safer” stated Christopher Hill, the Vice President of Diplomat Armored Rentals. He continued, “An armored vehicle is a major investment. Some organizations don’t have $140,000 to buy a new armored vehicle, and it is almost impossible to finance an armored vehicle at a bank because they lose value faster than regular vehicles. There are also expensive maintenance costs associated with armored vehicle ownership that make renting or leasing an armored vehicle from Diplomat Armored Rentals an attractive option to our clients.”
According to Council for Law and Human Rights, there were 17,889 reported kidnappings in Mexico during 2011. Or 49 kidnappings per day, which marks a 32% increase from 2010.
Several high profile kidnappings have forced corporations to implement new strategies to protect their employees.
In 2009, a manager for the Lear Corporation was kidnapped in Juarez and held for a 1.5 million dollar ransom. On March 2nd, 2012 eight Pemex workers were kidnapped in Piedras Negras by a group of armed men. When police went to investigate, they were fired upon resulting in the death of one police officer and six other officers were injured. In another kidnapping incident, a singer was kidnapped in Monterrey and killed after his family paid the ransom. He was reportedly abducted after he refused to pay protection fees to extortionist.
In one of the most extreme examples, Felix Batista an anti-kidnapping specialist with ASI Global was kidnapped in Satillo, Coahilla.
Kidnappings are not the only threat to businesses along the border. Extortion is on the rise as drug gangs seek new income streams to supplement for profits lost due to the current crackdown on the cartels.
When businesses refuse to pay or report the extortion to local law enforcement, the criminals quickly resort to violence. Last year 52 people were killed after armed gunmen set fire to a casino in Monterrey over unpaid extortion fees. 5 employees of a night club in Mexicali were gunned down in 2011 after the club owner fell behind on payments to extortionist.
By paying the extortion, businesses leave themselves at the mercy of the criminals. The “protection fee” is often raised at the whims of the extortionist. Or a rival criminal organization may also demand payment and the business finds itself at the mercy of criminal organizations demanding a weekly cut of the profits.
Diplomat Armored Rentals also provides armed security drivers and executive protection details to their clients. Through their partnership with Spec Ops Services, all of their operators come from US Special Forces teams. They have decades of combat experience an extensive training in counter-terrorism, close quarters combat, close protection and evasive driving maneuvers.
Max Chip Bayless, the CEO of Spec Ops Services said “Any Executives traveling to Mexico without the added security of an armored vehicle are putting themselves in a very risky and dangerous situation. This is why Spec Ops Service is teaming up with Diplomat Armored Rentals to eradicate security risks through performance and planning while giving our clients complete assurance when they are traveling to Mexico in an armored vehicle.“
As the US economy improves, the number of maquiladoras along the border is expected to increase over the next few years. As more corporations seek to utilize the cost savings associated with manufacturing goods in Mexico, companies like Diplomat Armored Rentals and Spec Ops Services are uniquely suited to meet the demand for specialized security services in the region.