Trend: Private security companies grow Growing crime in Central America boon to private security companies

Published 9 February 2009

A combination of a dramatic increase in crime — from drug-related murders to kidnapping for ransom — and a growing perception that government agencies cannot or would not do much about it, have led to a boom for private security companies in Central and Latin America

At the HS Daily Wire, our unofficial motto is, “Where there is a security need, there is a business opportunity.” Mexico offers a vivid example. One of the fast-growing industries in Mexico is the tracking-chip implant industry. Well-to-do Mexicans and their families have the chips implanted under their skin not because they are planning to work in some hush-hush government security facility, but because they want private security companies to be able to track them if they are kidnapped and held for ransom. Ah, yes, we forgot: kidnapping for ransom is a big industry in countries such as Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia, so the tracking of potential kidnapping victims has become a big industry, too.

The microchip is implanted under the skin in less than ten seconds, and the monitoring service costs $5,000.00 a year. From that moment the chip is implanted, workers in a high-tech monitoring room in Queretaro, Mexico track the recipient’s every movements. There are no names on the screens, only numbers.

The pervasive violence and waves after waves of rampant crime — the country is currently classified by international groups as the riskiest Latin American country for kidnappings — have severely eroded citizens’ trust in the government’s capacity to deal with the country’s growing violence.

The Miami Herald’s Ninoska Marcano writes that the beneficiaries are private security companies who offer services the government appears incapable of offering. Many citizens who can afford it have invested an estimated $18 billion in private security measures, including the microchip, according to a 2008 report from the Center for Economic Studies. Inserting the chip under the skin shows how far many middle-class Mexicans are willing to go to ensure their safety, said Francisco González, a sales manager for Xega, the only high-tech security company in the country that sells satellite-tracking microchips for humans.

Xega’s VIP satellite tracking microchip is just one security method. Other methods include:

  • Taking out loans to buy or lease armored vehicles.
  • Investing in bodyguards-for-hire to go to the ATM, or run weekend errands.
  • Participating in watchdog groups such as Mexico United Against Crime, which have grown substantially.

Some 3,000 people use the chip device nationwide, and the number is rapidly growing. ”[The device] has become very popular,” said González. ”Our number of clients is increasing.”

The VIP tracking device operates like a GPS receiver in a car. The client presses a button on a watch, a cellular phone or key chain