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

GUERREROS UNIDOS / 18 APR 2016

Witness testimony given to Mexico's human rights agency has implicated federal police in the 2014 disappearance of 43 student protestors…

BELIZE / 5 MAR 2015

In its most recent report, the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) -- responsible for overseeing the implementation of the United…

COSTA RICA / 20 SEP 2011

Sex trafficking is a common criminal activity in Central America and Mexico, but the business has different manifestations across the…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Collaborating on Citizen Security Initiatives

8 JUN 2021

Co-director Steven Dudley worked with Chemonics, a DC-based development firm, to analyze the organization’s citizen security programs in Mexico.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Deepens Its Connections with Universities

31 MAY 2021

A partnership with the University for Peace will complement InSight Crime’s research methodology and expertise on Costa Rica.

THE ORGANIZATION

With Support from USAID, InSight Crime Will Investigate Organized Crime in Haiti

31 MAY 2021

The project will seek to map out Haiti's principal criminal economies, profile the specific groups and actors, and detail their links to elements of the state.

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.