The golfer and former federal deputy candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in San Luis Potosí, Lidia Villalba de Heinz, was murdered last Thursday, March 17, in the municipality of Ojuelos, on the border between the states of Jalisco and Zacatecas, while traveling at night with her escorts from Aguascalientes to San Luis Potosí. Her luxury van did not stop at a checkpoint of Jalisco investigation agents (as they mistook them for criminals), which provoked a chase and then a shootout between the authorities and her escorts, where the businesswoman lost her life, while four other people were injured.
Initially, it was said that the golfer had an escort car, but everything indicates that the protection agent was traveling with her in the same vehicle, which was not armored.
In this unfortunate case, at least five mistakes were made that led to the fatal outcome:
- Intelligence. You don't need to be an expert to know that this road crosses an area where drug cartels operate. While it is dangerous even during the day, at night the risk becomes extreme. This trip in the middle of the night should have been avoided at all costs.
- Choice of vehicle. A luxury vehicle with these characteristics could easily be mistaken for those used by organized crime groups and become a target of both cartels and authorities, particularly at this time of night, which indeed happened. A much more discreet unit was required for this transfer.
- Lack of early warning. When operating in these zones, a discreet vehicle traveling several minutes ahead of the main vehicle is generally used, which must report in a timely manner any unsafe conditions of the trip and verify the presence of roadblocks to alert the main vehicle, thus preventing it from falling into a trap.
- Armed agent in an unarmored vehicle. We have said many times that weapons in unarmored vehicles raise the risks rather than reduce them, which in this case was evident.
- Betting on close protection. In this case, as in many others, it was considered that armed personnel are sufficient to provide security, so it was decided to bet on the shooting as the basis for protection without taking into account that the shooting increases the risks instead of reducing them. Attempting to protect someone at close quarters implies circumventing the risks along with the protected, which means exposing them and not protecting them. This is just one more unfortunate case that demonstrates the insanity of these operational concepts.
Only good planning, logistics and protection in advance can make this profession safer for both protectees and protectors.