Executive Protection Academy

Executive Protection Academy

José Alfredo Cabrera Murder: One Attacker Defeated 15 Armed Escorts

The unfortunate attack against José Alfredo Cabrera Barrientos shows once again that executive protection, both globally and locally, is not analyzing or learning anything from its mistakes, while deaths continue to accumulate. In the last 19 months in Mexico, 17 protected persons and 31 of their bodyguards have been murdered, while the same failures are repeated.

José Alfredo Cabrera Barrientos, candidate of the PRI-PAN-PRD coalition for mayor of Coyuca de Benítez, Guerrero, was murdered on the afternoon of May 29 during his campaign closing event.

The assassination of the candidate occurred when Cabrera Barrientos was under the stage, greeting his followers, and at that moment, a person appeared from behind and killed him with at least two shots. The subsequent useless armed reaction of the security team, although it killed the attacker, caused injuries to the public according to unofficial reports.

Journalistic sources indicate that the candidate was protected by at least 15 armed agents, some of them with long weapons, and all of them were defeated by a single person with a single weapon.

It is surprising that, despite numerous cases around the world in recent years, those responsible for executive protection continue to believe that armed escorts, even with long guns, can provide effective security. There is absolutely no evidence to support this idea; rather, the opposite is true.

The essential flaw, as in the previous cases, is the conceptual ignorance that protection is not carried in space, but in time, and that security rings are temporal, not spatial.



1. Short time ring: Protective logistics: the candidate moved through a completely open space, being accessible from all sides. In these cases, it is essential to channel the terrain of displacement with existing or added barriers and obstacles, and to position the agents appropriately in order to reduce the attack vectors and also to extend them, forcing the attacker to make mistakes or to abort the action. In this way the attack is prevented or stopped moments before.

2. Long time ring: Counter-surveillance: In most attacks occurring at pre-announced public events, the killer (and accomplices, if any) have been watching the victim's critical travel area for at least a day prior to the attack. The trained counter-surveillance team easily detects these individuals the day or days before the attack.

3. Medium time ring: Early warning. Shadow agents infiltrated within the crowd easily identify the subjects detected in the counter-surveillance operations, since their presence in the critical movement zone before and on the day of the event is a strong indication of the attack. This stops the aggression hours and minutes before the departure of the executive in the critical zone.

Waiting until the last moment to react is a fatal conceptual and strategic error, whose disastrous results are evident in this case, where a single attacker with a single weapon defeated 15 protectors, some with long weapons, as he managed to kill the candidate before being shot. Only by understanding that executive protection takes place in time and not in space, and that it operates through anticipation and not through reaction and weapons, can we have a safer profession for both the protected and the protectors.