Bullet-Resistant Panels Along the Border

Since the Mexican government began its crackdown in 2006, drug-cartel related gun violence has killed nearly 60,000 people–mostly Mexican citizens, and far too many of them bystanders, journalists, or innocent family members totally uninvolved in the drug trade. Bullet resistant panels are becoming an increasingly hot commodity on both sides of the border, and not just for those involved directly in the drug trade.



Of the 2,000-mile US-Mexican border, almost 1,200 miles run along Texas, much of that the Rio Grande waterway. Because of its meandering length and slow current, the Rio Grande is an especially attractive crossing point for smugglers and criminals. This past Fourth of July the Texas Department of Safety Highway Patrol (who is charged with policing the river) unveiled four new “shallow water interceptors”: 34-foot, 900-horsepower speed boats reinforced with bullet-resistant paneling, and armed with fully-automatic, belt-fed, double-barreled .30-caliber machine guns capable of firing 900 rounds-per-minute.



It’s safe to assume that this is new territory for the Texas Highway Patrol, who have not previously needed to rely so heavily on bullet-resistant panels and machine guns to safeguard beat officers on their daily patrols.



Sadly, sales of bulletproof paneling for both home and auto reinforcement has spiked sharply across northern Mexico within the last few years. What was at one time considered something only vital to the very wealthy–who have long been lucrative targets for kidnapping schemes–is starting to become a middle-class necessity. The Mexican Association of Automobile Armorers has seen roughly 10 percent growth in its business over the last several years, and now boasts almost a six-month waiting period for bullet proof panel installations (which themselves take about two weeks to complete). This has even driven demand north of the border, where the San Antonio-based Texas Armoring Corp has reported a four-fold increase in bullet-resistant paneling installations for Mexican customers.

Incidentally, considering the terrifying volume of gun violence in Northern Mexico, it might be of interest to note that the entire nation has only one legal gun shop (in contrast to the nearly 50,000 in the United States).


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