MEXICO CITY, June 6 (UPI) -- Mexico's fraught security situation amid a continuing government-led war on drug gangs has raised prospects for more law enforcement agencies buying modern military equipment to deal with the threat.
U.S. security solutions supplier Safeguard Security Holdings, Inc. will deliver 40 armored vehicles to a Mexican government agency, which has indicated an option on an additional 50 of the Level 6+ vehicles, the company said.
Mexico is being aided in its fight against drug-related violence by several U.S. agencies in an effort to stem the flow of cocaine and other drugs across the border into the United States and Canada.
Safeguard said the armored vehicles will be supplied by subsidiary SYSTEMSgroup Global, the company's marketing group for Latin America operations.
Mexican authorities are under increasing pressure from the nation's own and U.S. businesses in the country. Many among an estimated 18,000 U.S. firms active in Mexico have raised voices for greater protection of their employees and assets.
The recent surge in drug-related violence led to comments from U.S. companies they would consider moving out of Mexico altogether, thus raising the stakes for officials. U.S. businesses alone lost more than $700 million in intercepted in stolen cargo, published estimates said.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon has vowed to continue the war on drug warlords but critics of the campaign say it may be some time before the extensive crackdown begins to take effect. More U.S. assistance may be called for but success will depend on approaches to the growing threat of drug-related violence.
Critics say the security issues are as pressing as those in Afghanistan and need a coordinated bilateral effort by experts on both sides of the Mexican-U.S. border, plus investment in protecting vulnerable groups in the community. Businesses have already seen their security costs soar because of the worsening situation.
Safeguard said the export order raised hopes it could sell more armored cars and other security equipment to ports, transportation hubs and regional and federal government agencies involved in law enforcement.
Sean Finegan, Safeguard's vice president for business development, said the initial deal was worth $5 million but eventual confirmation of an additional order for 50 more armored vehicles would significantly raise that figure.
Safeguard Chief Executive Officer R. Michael Lagow said, "We see a tremendous growth opportunity to serve several government agencies in Mexico as we build our relationships there. We are working with several different types of agencies in an effort to expand into mining, sea ports, state and federal operations."
He termed Mexico "target rich" for the company's armored products inventory as well as security surveillance services.
Safeguard has headquarters in Dallas, where it operates a number of subsidiaries.