HomeNewsBriefInsecurity Driving Mexico Elites' Demand for Bulletproof Vehicles
BRIEF

Insecurity Driving Mexico Elites' Demand for Bulletproof Vehicles

MEXICO / 19 FEB 2016 BY MICHAEL LOHMULLER EN

Perceptions of growing insecurity have driven demand for armored vehicles in Mexico, spurring an industry that caters to the safety concerns of the country's political and economic elite.

According to a report by El País, sales of bulletproof vehicles in Mexico rose 10 percent over the past two years, an increase attributed to growing private demand.

"Last year 75 percent of our business was private sales. As well as top businessmen and wealthy families, customers now include people from medium-size businesses and workers who spend the entire day on the streets and are concerned for their safety," Fernando Echeverri said.

Echeverri is a Colombian national and president of Ballistic Group, an armored car producer in Mexico's Federal District. Himself a kidnapping victim of Colombian guerrillas, Echeverri helped popularize Colombia's armored car industry in the 1990s before later expanding his business to Mexico.

Mexico's armored car industry generates around $150 million per year and 10,000 jobs, reported El País. Bulletproofing a vehicle costs between $25,000 and $55,000, leaving it an option only for Mexico's wealthy.

For Echeverri, business boomed during the administration of former Mexican President Felipe Calderón (2006 – 2012). But when current President Enrique Peña Nieto took office, Echeverri lamented how his administration "didn't buy anything" during the first year, leading to a 25 percent drop in sales.

Private demand, however, is leading to renewed growth. The highest number of sales come from the city of Monterrey and the Federal District.

Echeverri said no one has been killed in one of his company's cars, although he recounted several assassination attempts. "If they killed a client it would kill my business," Echeverri remarked.

InSight Crime Analysis

As El País notes, the rise in bulletproof vehicle sales contrasts with Mexico's gradually improving security indicators. Although homicides increased slightly last year, Mexico's 2015 murder rate of around 16 per 100,000 citizens was well below the highs experienced during the Calderón era. And, according to official figures, kidnapping rates have also declined, falling over 30 percent through the first 10 months of 2015 compared to the same period of 2014.

Yet these security improvements have not resulted in improved perceptions of insecurity, which could help explain why Mexican elites are increasing demand for armored transportation. This rise may also indicate a certain level of distrust in the ability of government security forces to provide adequate protection from criminal activity.

SEE ALSO: InDepth: NarcoCulture

Elites, however, are not the only segment of Mexican society that has been retrofitting their vehicles. Criminal groups have also been known to construct "Mad Max-style" vehicles, with El País recounting the 2011 seizure of a behemoth, 30-ton armored "narco-tank" belonging to the ultra-violent Zetas gang. 

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

GUATEMALA / 4 FEB 2022

A former Guatemala mayor and his family have been accused of smuggling more than a dozen migrants later massacred in…

GULF CARTEL / 29 JUL 2022

Mexican authorities crushed 23 "narco-tanks," while 630 armored vehicles have been confiscated since 2018.

HUMAN TRAFFICKING / 15 JUL 2022

A recent report has shed new light on how temporary work visa programs for migrant laborers can backfire.

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…