Region/Countries: Mexico, North America Industry: Manufacturing, Other Date: April 2021

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: There’s a need for new technology and products for armored vehicles.

In Mexico, the armored vehicle industry dates back to the 1970s, initially providing mainly police enforcement vehicles. But by 1995, civilian vehicles and wealthy individuals began to use armored vehicles as a measure of security, especially in light of the rising kidnapping rates.

As of 2020, Mexico and Brazil were the countries with the largest number of armored vehicles in use. Mexico had one of the highest rates of kidnapping in the world by the end of the 1990s, but kidnapping is not listed among the country’s top 10 crimes. The reasons are: cifra negra, or “the black statistic,” and secuestro express, or “express kidnapping.” Cifra negra refers to those crimes that are not reported to the authorities; therefore, there is neither a record nor prosecution. Reasons for not reporting vary, but often, they involve a lack of credibility that law enforcement authorities have in the country and that many residents have “a lack of confidence in the integrity and effectiveness of governmental authorities,” according to a report, “Organized Crime and Violence in Mexico 2021,” by the organization Justice in Mexico. The other factor, known as secuestro express, refers to kidnapping a victim for a short time and demanding a low ransom that the victim pays by withdrawing money from ATMs.

Unreported crimes are estimated to exceed 90% of all crimes every year in Mexico, while 93.9% of all kidnappings, most of which were secuestros express, were not reported, according to Mexico’s latest National Survey on Victimization and Perception of Public Safety, released in December 2020.

According to several articles in the business press and the Mexican Association of Vehicle Armorers, the vehicle armor industry in Mexico keeps growing because of the unfortunate safety issues. In 2018, growth was estimated at 4.5% since the armoring of vehicles reached an estimated 3,102 during that year. By 2019, the increase was estimated at 11%, involving 3,463 armored vehicles. Figures for 2020 have not yet been released but the increase is expected to be at a smaller rate, 2-3%, mainly for economic reasons. During 2019 and 2020, austerity policies dictated by the government prevented high-ranking government officers and politicians—an important segment of those seeking the extra protection—from asking for armored vehicles.

However, as Mexico’s economy recovers, as long as security concerns remain high, the potential market for Wisconsin manufacturers making armor for vehicles will likely be open.