Mexico City is a very bad place to reside if you are well known, affluent, and Mexican. Not so very long ago CASS Global was tasked with an Estate Threat Assessment in the most upscale neighborhood in Mexico City.
Security, both private and public, is abundant for the occupants of this leafy neighborhood as they are statistically among the most likely to be kidnapped on the planet. It is not pleasant living on the Center of the bulls eye and the young couple (son of a very successful industrialist) were both keen to see if we could improve matters.
It rapidly became apparent that we had limited options. The property was accessible by a single road so our young clients would become predictable…they had no alternative. The same held true of his workplace which was even worse. Limited, predictable access for him but always in close proximity to large number of employees/strangers/deliveries, etc.
Her daily routine was just as risky, rife with opportunities for those bent on mayhem and crime.
It was one of those rare occasions where, no matter what direction you turn, you hit another wall. We’ve all had them, be it personal or professional, but it felt like every time we were able to get 1 step forward we had to go 2 back. Nothing worked and we would be lying if we wrote anything else. It was a mess.
We were there for four very long days. During that time, we examined every alternative, from employing helicopters to creating a remote office at home. Safe rooms, thermal sensors on the grounds, live in Quick Reaction Forces, up armored vehicles, if you could think of it we tried it. We were severely restricted by topography and desired lifestyle, and were confronting extraordinary challenges trying to find the sweet spot on the convenience-security plane.
The final presentation, on the evening of Day 4, read more like a Military Operations Order than a security audit.
Yes, we could do it, but the cost, in terms of loss of privacy, controlled movements, and being surrounded 24/7 by quiet men with guns would be high. The property could be reinforced, safe rooms built, and CCTV with night vision capability installed.
Money was no object. Living a life where one was not a permanent, walking, target…. was.
In our business, one must be very careful not to perform the criminals’ (or terrorists’) work for them. We could create a bulletproof environment but in so doing would have our clients living in a steel bunker for the rest of their lives, escaping only when accompanied by heavily armed security. And having lived in high threat environments, we can assure the reader that the glamor is illusory and the sense of fear is sometimes palpable. It is not fun in the least. These were some seriously “at risk” people.
As an aside, we run operations of this magnitude all the time, but they have a definable end point. This one, on the other hand, would go into perpetuity or until Mexico was no longer corrupt. Our vote was on perpetuity.
The bottom line was that if they remained in Mexico City they would reside in the equivalent of Fort Knox and travel in heavily armored convoys everywhere they went. For all our efforts to downplay implementation, we just didn’t have any viable alternatives left. That was the way it was and nothing was going to change it and we didn’t mince words about it. It was option A or option B and there was no middle ground. The end.
The process was never implemented.
To the surprise of all, including CASS Global, the pair chose to leave the country, immigrating to the United States. They opted for a life of freedom, secure in their anonymous obscurity in their new found country and home. To achieve that, they turned their back on prestige, fame, etc. in their native Mexico.
Would we have liked the contract? Yes. It was a lot of money.
But we are also happy for them, wherever they are. They were young, not guilty of any crime save being the children of a wealthy man, and at the end of the day, wished only to live their life in peace. We got a note for a Christmas or two but the passage of time has since ended our contact with them.
One of the Christmas cards we kept, names removed. We use it as a reminder than beneath the body armor and steel plate, behind the bullet proof windows, there dwells real human beings with loves and fears just like the rest of us. Sometimes the big guys, the all devouring multi national security firms, forget that. Forget that in the end it is about people. But then again, they probably never get Christmas cards from clients either.