More than 30 CSOs from around the world gathered in El Paso, Texas on April 15 to attend the U.S.-Mexico Border Security Summit, where they met with regional security leaders and law enforcement officials to discuss the unique challenges of doing business on the border. The event was hosted by the ASIS International Juarez-Chihuahua Chapter, organized primarily by chapter president Deyanira Murga, and sponsored by CSO Roundtable.
Ciudad Juarez has been plagued by drug cartel violence in the past five years and was ranked the most dangerous city in the world in 2010. However, the region is home to hundreds of maquiladoras, or manufacturing operations that build materials to be exported, and security officials have struggled to keep the factories safe from the surrounding violence.
The intensive two-day conference began in Ciudad Juarez, where attendees ate breakfast and watched a presentation by the local military. Mexico’s National Security Commission General Director Juan A. Arambula Martinez spoke about the challenges the private professional security industry faces in Juarez, and Fox News writer Nelson Balido followed up with an overview of the state of security on the border. Balido, a border trade security specialist, has a positive outlook on the economic growth of Mexico.
“I think Mexico is the new China,” he said. “The price of oil, transit, time to market, manufacturing, and skilled labor are all things that are absolutely important to have in order to be able to make a business claim that’s favorable to bringing clients, companies, and investment into Mexico, and that’s happening.”
After breakfast, CSOs visited the U.S. Consulate General in Juarez, where Consul General Ian Brownlee, RSO Shane Dixon, and other U.S. officials hosted a roundtable to discuss how collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico has helped improve safety and security in Juarez.
“We have seen a massive paradigm shift in how the drug war is being fought here,” Dixon told CSOs. “You’re not seeing the massive collateral damage anymore. You’re seeing a professional hit. Because of that, the people here are starting to feel safer, and we’re starting to see more people in the streets.”
However, consulate officials did acknowledge that kidnapping and extortion carried out by local thugs unaffiliated with the larger cartels is a growing problem.
Attendees then toured a Johnson & Johnson plant, where they were able to talk with regional security manager Pete Ocegueda about the threats that face the maquiladora. Ocegueda acknowledged that one problem in the region is safely transporting employees to and from work. Many larger maquiladoras have a shuttle service for employees, but since it arrives and leaves at the same times every day it’s an easy target for robbers.
Following a luncheon at the BOSCH plant, CSOs engaged in a lively panel discussing best practices at the Cummins factory. Panelists were Shelley Stewart, executive director of Cummins; Kevin Donovan, vice president of global security at Johnson & Johnson; Tami Karakas, security senior manager at Toro, and Ed Hostetter, senior manager of global security at Lexmark International. The discussion was led by Charles Andrews, ASIS regional vice president of Texas...
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