Mexico – land of opportunity for private security companies

I’ve been in contact with a couple of western private security contractors recently, and they say that folks out in Afghanistan and Iraq are increasingly looking at Mexico as a good future option. “The future of western private security companies in Iraq is bleak,” says one contractor. “If we can establish a toe hold in Mexico and South America it could evolve into a bright future for all concerned.”

This isn’t particularly surprising, but it does make one wonder what Mexico could turn into. What no one wants is a Blackwater-type situation there, where private security folks simply go in guns blazing and enjoy shooting up shit (not to mention, people). There’s the issue of sovereignty, of course, and no doubt some Mexicans would come out strongly against private security operatives on their turf (when Blackwater started building its training facility near the border outside of San Diego a few years back, the press in Mexico went crazy out of fear, and rightly so, in my opinion.) In addition, there are already enough vigilante-types operating in Mexico; the last thing anyone needs is a bunch of trigger-happy foreign mercenaries taking potshots at anyone who looks, talks or walks like a narco. Or just someone they don’t like the look of.

That said, if all is done by the book, then these companies could very well be welcome and should be: Pemex has had pipelines pilfered by Los Zetas and other rebel groups in the past, while most US firms insist their employees ride around with security these days. With fake military and federal police checkpoints apparently becoming increasingly common, having some serious security guys on the ground would do everyone wonders. While most foreign investment to Mexico has continued to flood in despite security concerns, a survey of 220 private U.S. companies (conducted by the State Department) showed that 15 percent of those companies have postponed investments or other plans, Reuters reported recently; nearly 80 percent of the companies saw the drug war as a long-term threat to Mexico’s political and economic stability.

“If we don’t take seriously the tension that is being created by the insecurity and work in a very deliberate and accelerated way to reduce it, then there is a very serious prospect that the spillover into the investment climate can become more significant,” U.S. Ambassador Carlos Pascual told the news agency.

Indeed. Perhaps it’s time to bring in the mercs. Readers, what do you think?

2 thoughts on “Mexico – land of opportunity for private security companies”

  1. I am a security contractor and I have a few thoughts on the matter. My opinion is that the Mexican people should arm themselves and take back their towns by force. The Mexican government should be fully supportive of this armed citizenry, and do all they can to empower the citizen to protect their town and defeat the cartels.

    Now with that said, private industry can certainly be of assistance. But the Mexican government and the people of Mexico are not at all interested in any foreign assistance. Call it pride, ego, whatever. They think they can do it alone, and it is kind of sad to watch.

    If they were to get a change of heart, then the one legal mechanism that the Mexican government could use for the eradication of the cartels, is called the Letter of Marque and Reprisal or LoM. In order to eradicate an industry that is driven by profit from the sale of drugs, then you need an equally efficient industry that profits off the destruction of the cartels.

    The government could be issuing LoM's to individuals and companies, and licensing to kill or capture cartel members that have been identified by the government as targets. These recipients of the LoM could then seize the assets of the cartels, and legally claim ownership through a prize court. The government would get a percentage, and the privateer would get the rest. This is a system that works, is efficient, has historical precedent, and it is self extinguishing. Because once there is no more cartels to kill or capture, then the industry dies and goes away. Plus the LoM's would expire.

    Under the terms of the LoM, a government could spell out exactly how the killing and capturing is to be done, and what would happen to the company or individual that did not perform the act legally. A privateer could instantly turn into a criminal if in violation of the LoM, and the entire industry could be turned on that party.

    That is one way I would use private industry for the drug wars. The other uses of private industry would only drain the Mexican government and people of funds, and really wouldn't be that cost effective. We can protect people and things, or teach folks how to do things, but how would that end the problem?

  2. Uh… the so-called drug cartels are the perfect example of "privatized security companies" now. It's early in the AM and I'm just running through my RSS feeds now, so haven't looked through this carefully, but just for starters, Matt assumes "the people" see the present administration as legitimate (not universally true), and necessarily see the so-called cartels as the "enemy". Or, that narcotics exporters are the criminal concern in every municipality. More than a few massacres in recent years go back to water rights disputes a few hundred years old… something armed citizens are much more likely to "resolve" than some theoretical threat like exporters of a crop they don't care about one way or another (unless it's using their water, of course).

    Malcolm, perhaps you need to make clear you're talking about the execs of these companies and their corporate stategies, not the mercs (er… security personnel) they now have. Things like Wackenhut's purchase of the armored car company, Panamerica. THAT did raise some concern, and hopefully your post will be a wake-up call to the Camera and Senate that Mexico needs to regulate the private security business.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *