Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » Appearance » Widgets » and move Gabfire Widget: Social into that MastheadOverlay zone

War on drugs: Mexican security and armored cars industry are flourishing.

A Toyota Sienna minivan has been bulletproofed in a Mexico City shop that retrofits vehicles with armor. The glass in the door window is considerably thicker than in regular car windows.

More than 3 1/2 years after President Felipe Calderon declared war on Mexico’s drug cartels, the pace of killings has increased and 2010 is on track to be the deadliest yet in a campaign that has already claimed as many as 28,000 lives.

While the insecurity has put a damper on business and tourism in Mexico, the increased violence has been a boon to the security sector, including the armored car industry.

At the workshop of Protecto Glass in Mexico City, workers cut plates of ballistic steel with a torch. The garage is filled with brand new luxury cars and SUVs. A shiny new Mercedes sedan has been stripped down to its frame and is up on a lift. In the back, workers are tearing into what looks like a very expensive BMW. A Lincoln Navigator is being reassembled.

Jonathan Nader, the plant engineer at Protecto Glass, points to a Porsche Cayenne that is undergoing a transformation.

“What we’re basically doing now is we are taking out everything. The dashboard. The seats. It gets stripped down to bare-bones naked. If it’s your car and you come in and see it, you get kind of scared,” Nader says.

Protecto Glass has been in business since 1993. It is one of 14 armoring companies certified by Mexico’s federal government. In a normal year, Nader says his company bulletproofs roughly 120 cars. But last year they did 170, at a cost ranging from $16,000 to $75,000.

A Mercedes sedan in the midst of being bulletproofed. The vehicles need to be almost completely stripped down to the frame and then rebuilt to withstand bullets.

A Mercedes sedan in the midst of being bulletproofed. The vehicles need to be almost completely stripped down to the frame and then rebuilt to withstand bullets.

Nader says they offer five levels of armor retrofits. Level 2 is designed to stop bullets from a pistol. Level 3 should…READ MORE HERE.