Caribbean security firms see niche market

Feb. 20, 2013 at 4:18 PM
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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Caribbean security industry operators are seeing business growth in response to both prosperity of an emerging wealthy class and a rise in crime risks to rich individuals and business organizations.

Vigorous armed pursuit of organized crime in Latin America, in particular in Colombia and Mexico, has driven criminal drug gangs and syndicates toward potential rich pickings in the Caribbean. Governments have responded by building up security services, often with British or U.S. help.

A recent surge in air and cross-border travel has driven demand for security industry services.

Security industry operators say they expect the market to shrink if security industry firms from North America and Britain descend on countries with a rising middle class and new security concerns.

In one of the earliest explorations of the market, the British Security Industry Association said British business could benefit from doing business in the Caribbean, though the region is small and made up of individual islands.

"The security sector is growing rapidly as these countries move toward the greater use of technology," association member Gerard Garcia said. "Establishing business through local partners in the region can prove beneficial."

Caribbean security industry operators say they want to exploit a niche market they see growing rapidly. Personal bodyguard services have mushroomed across the Caribbean region and the number of security service providers for corporation clients is growing.

Agricultural scientist Herman Adams said the Caribbean could also exploit its exclusive local commodities, such as extra-hot peppers, to offer new law enforcement devices to the region and the rest of the world.

He listed a number of agricultural products that could be employed to produce nonlethal weapons for crowd control and overcoming assailants, the Trinidad Guardian reported. Other agents want lethal force to be met with equal measure.

"We should be industrializing the hottest of our peppers ... and churn out industrial products like pepper sprays," Adams, researcher at the Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute said.

Pepper grenades were also considered.

Adams said adoption of agricultural and herbal weapons such as the Trinidad Scorpion Butch T pepper could open new business opportunities for the Caribbean. The Trinidad Scorpion Butch T is recognized as the hottest pepper on Earth.

"We can beat them hands-down when it comes to competitiveness," Adams said of the local pepper variety and current producers of law-enforcement pepper spray in China and the United States.

Dwight Williams of Heller Security Services said limiting response to non-lethal weapons could "enhance the work" of the security industry and police.

"It is clearly a milder form of force that can be very effective in mitigating what can become very serious situations," Williams told the Guardian.

Security analysts say the spread of mobile phones in the region has made law-enforcement both easier and more difficult. Criminals can communicate, often with impunity and without fear of detection by the region's under-resourced crime prevention agencies.

Mobile security services are seeing new expansion in South America and the Caribbean with the entry of more businesses in the region.

Usage of the mobile security services has expanded with the adoption of the latest innovations in mobile security technologies both by international law enforcement agencies and other security services.

Alternet Systems, Inc. said it reached an exclusive master distribution agreement between its subsidiary International Mobile Security and U.K. technology and systems integration company Delma MSS.

The deal covers the resale of Delma's mobile security solutions in the Western Hemisphere.

IMS will be the exclusive master distributor of Delma's products and services in the Americas.

Alternet Systems, Inc. has headquarters in Miami and has worked in secure mobile commerce and communications in the Americas and Caribbean. Alternet has regional units in 17 countries across the region.

Meanwhile, Fitch said the merger of American Airlines with US Airways isn't likely to adversely affect Latin American and Caribbean airports. The merger created concern that many security jobs at regional airports may be at risk.

Fitch said overall current passenger traffic in the region continues to grow steadily.

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