It should come as no surprise that the spiraling narcogang-related violence in Mexico is spurring business for companies providing protection from the chaos of the streets. The Homeland Security Newswire reports this morning that for one company, sales for their armored vehicles are up a whopping 300 percent over the past 18 months.
Mark Burton, CEO of International Armoring Corp. told HSW that most customers live in El Paso, Texas, but have business dealings across the border in Juárez, Mexico—which has been dubbed the “murder capital of the world” after having seen 2,600 murders in 2009 with another 227 assassinations related to organized crime in January of this year alone.
The vehicles, which cost about $72,000 on average to convert—a price that doesn’t include the cost of the vehicle—have their entire passenger compartment lined with armor, and have their glass replaced with two-inch ballistic armored windows to protect against attacks from handguns and weapons like AK-47s and AR-15s.
The border region has become so chaotic that U.S. border officials have been warned that the Mexican gang suspected of killing three people linked to the U.S. consulate in Juárez last week may be planning further strikes against U.S. officers, and the El Paso Intelligence Center has advised law enforcement officials along the border “to wear their protective vests and alert their own family members to the threat.”
What’s more, a few weeks ago, a Mexican Navy helicopter crossed the border while chasing suspects, and was seen hovering over a neighborhood in Brownsville, Tx., according to local reports. Zapata County, Tx. Sheriff Sigifredo Gonzalez told the San Antonio Express News that “It's always been said that the Mexican military does in fact ... that there have been incursions…. But this is not New Mexico or Arizona. Here we've got a river; there's a boundary line. And then of course having Falcon Lake, Falcon Dam, it's a lot wider. It's not just a trickle of a river, it's an actual dam. You know where the boundary's at.”
The incursion happened during vicious fighting between two Mexican drug gangs, the Gulf Cartel and Los Zetas, a conflict that is spilling over the border. To make matters worse, Mexican gangs are reportedly actively trying to infiltrate the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, and as a result, 576 CBP officers and Border Patrol agents had corruption cases opened against them last year. The Express also reported that “in the past two years, there have been 400 public corruption cases involving federal, state and local law enforcement agents originating from the Southwest border region.”
The story of the national security threat along the southern border of the United States hasn’t received a ton of front-page press until recently, but from the looks of things, this might only be the beginning.