Thursday, June 28, 2018

ARMORED CAR SALES IN MEXICO AND BRAZIL NEAR RECORD LEVELS DUE TO RISING CRIME, REPORT SAYS..Mexico goes to the polls this weekend. 132 politicians have been killed since campaigning began, per one count

Mexico goes to the polls this weekend. 132 politicians have been killed since campaigning began, per one count

A man wounded during an attack against Secretary of Labour and ex-prosecutor of Jalisco Luis Carlos Najera is assisted in downtown Guadalajara, Jalisco State, Mexico, on May 21, 2018.
(CNN)Even for a country numbed by escalating violence, the toll the campaign season in Mexico has exacted is horrifying. 
In the nine months leading up to this weekend's presidential election, 132 politicians have been killed. That's according to Etellekt, a risk analysis and crisis management firm. 
The group's report, released Tuesday, found that 22 of Mexico's 32 states have seen a political assassination since campaigning began in September. 
Etellekt's tally found 48 of the victims were candidates. The rest included party workers. 
    "These numbers anticipates a serious challenge of security for peace and democratic governance in these regions, and could debilitate the political party," the firm said. 
    One of the most shocking deaths occurred earlier this month when a congressional candidate was posing for a photo with someone. Fernando Puron had just left a debate in the northern state of Coahuila where he had vowed to tackle crime when a man walked up to him from behind and shot him the head. 
    Puron was a member of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, Mexico's main party. According to the Etellekt report, the party has lost 12 politicians to attacks -- the most deaths of all. 
    While the motives for these killings are unclear, drug cartels -- which operate in vast swaths of the country -- are believed to be behind many of them. 
    Many have criticized current President Enrique Peña Nieto, who took office December 1, 2012, for his inability to tame drug-related crimes during his time in office.
    The killings highlighted in the analysis are part of a bigger pattern of attacks on politicians, Etellekt said. It counted 543 incidents, including kidnappings and extortion attempts. 
    But it's not just political violence that's spiking in Mexico. The country's homicide rate in 2017 was the highest on record, with more than 25,000 killings registered by the government.
    And May 2018 was the deadliest month recorded in Mexico, since the government began releasing homicide data. 
    According to the government's most recent report, there has been a total of 20,506 homicides this year, with 4,381 homicides in May alone. 
    Election Day in Mexico is Sunday, when voters elect the country's new president and fill thousands of congressional, state and local seats. Peña Nieto cannot run for re-election because presidents are limited to one six-year term.


    Automakers can barely keep up with demand in these countries

    JUNE 27, 2018

    Toyota Land Cruiser 78 by Stoof

    2016 Range Rover Sentinel

    For years Mexico has had its own armored car cottage industry catering to even modestly wealthy individuals who desire a little more security on their morning commutes, converting everything from VW Jettas to Chevy Suburbans to varying levels of ballistic protection. Most of the armoring work for cars sold in Mexico is done locally, not only because of the variety of cars being converted to ballistic protection specs, but because Europe's coachbuilders just cannot keep up with the demand.
    Reuters now reports that the country's armoring specialists expect a 10 percent jump in the number of cars converted to armored spec and sold this year -- up to 3,284, according to the Mexican Automotive Armor Association -- driven by record crime levels including the 25,000 murders that occurred in Mexico in 2017. Reuters notes that the Mexican armored car market is much smaller than Brazil's, which saw sales of 15,145 cars last year and is expecting nothing short of a 25 percent jump in demand in 2018.
    While the homegrown armoring industry has kept up with the local demand for years, automakers and their armoring divisions have taken an interest in localizing production in Mexico. Audi, in particular, has started assembling an armored version of the Q5 SUV in Mexico for the domestic market, as well as for export to Brazil to keep up with the demand there. The advantage for customers is a lower price -- the armored Q5 retails for $87,000, compared to about $95,000 or more for an aftermarket job -- as well as factory warranty. Reuters notes that Mercedes-BenzJeep and BMW have already started converting their vehicles in their factories in Mexico to armored specifications.

    The threats in Mexico and Brazil are a little different from other places in the world where armored versions of common passenger sedans are sold: Rather than targeted political assassinations, wealthy individuals are more likely to face kidnapping or armed robbery attempts, making lower ballistic levels such as B5, which can withstand fire from most handguns but not assault rifles, a more popular choice than something heavier and more expensive like the B6/B7 grade of protection aimed at shielding passengers from armor-piercing rounds or grenades. Stealth also plays a role, since many in Mexico with the means to buy an armored car choose something common to convert, like a small Volkswagen sedan or a Honda crossover, rather than something obvious like a Chevrolet Suburban with tinted windows.
    The typical B5 anti-kidnapping package includes steel and layers of ballistic glass 3 to 5 inches thick, reinforced runflat tires able to withstand multiple punctures if a car is lured into a trap via steel spikes, a siren system, an armored gasoline tank, reinforced door handles and sometimes even tear gas canisters located underneath that can be fired to repel attackers. Heavier VR7/VR9 armor levels offer protection from common military rifles and grenades, but these tend to be pricier vehicles that typically start at $300,000 new, directly from automakers and a handful of reputable armorers/coachbuilders like Trasco, Friederichs, Carat Duchatelet and ASC.
    To discourage potential robbers from targeting vehicles in the first place, some customers in Mexico opt to import older armored cars from Europe that have serviced the diplomatic missions of various countries, cars like older Mercedes-Benz E-ClassVolvo S80 and Audi A8 sedans easily found in used condition.
    In 2010, Jenson Button narrowly escaped an armed attack by a number of gunmen in Sao Paulo, Brazil, shortly after departing from the Interlagos circuit. The F1 champion's security driver used an armored Mercedes-Benz B-Class to escape, sideswiping other cars in the process. F1 crews from Mercedes, Sauber and Williams have faced multiple attacks from armed robbers in Brazil in recent years, some just days apart.

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