Executive Protection Academy

Executive Protection Academy

The murder of Salvador Llamas; the danger of doing things "as they have always been done".

The way the company operates executive protection is so well known and predictable that we can say that if they don't "hit" a protégé with this operating scheme it is because they don't want to.

Many times we have commented with other colleagues that in the classic scheme where the escorts are in front of the restaurant during the meal, it is enough to put the killer among the diners, and thus execute the defenseless customer.

Just this happened last Friday, October 21, when Salvador Llamas Urbina, national advisor of Morena and head of the Municipal Cabinet of Puerto Vallarta, was shot to death this Friday at the Sonora Grill restaurant in the Providencia neighborhood, in Guadalajara.

According to official sources, and in a scene reminiscent of the movie The GodfatherFrancis Ford Coppola, one of the people eating with the official got up and killed him.

During their escape, the assailants were confronted by Llamas Urbina's bodyguards, which resulted in a shootout both inside and outside the restaurant. One of the attackers was killed, as well as Fernando Muñoz, former Security Commissioner of Puerto Vallarta, who tried to repel the aggression, while four other bodyguards of the official were wounded.

The rest of the assailants escaped, but not before leaving tire punctures at the intersection of Montevideo and Pablo Neruda.

Outside the Sonora Grill, where the attack occurred, three abandoned vehicles were found, inside which weapons, tire punctures and other evidence were found.

It has not been easy to reconstruct the facts due to the confusing information, however, it can be concluded that the executive had at least five bodyguards (four who, as already mentioned, were wounded and the one who was killed, Captain Francisco Muñoz, who tried to repel the attack), who were outside the restaurant, while Llamas ate with his assassin.

As in other cases, the tragic scheme is perpetuated in which all protection is reduced to armed escorts, an approach that has almost never yielded results.

With no little speculation, in such a confusing case we can draw some conclusions:

  1. Napoleon said that the choice of the battle ground is everything. It is evident that the official knew he was at risk for having so many escorts, and it was also likely that he knew the meeting would be tense and risky, so he chose a private place inside a busy restaurant, where he thought he could be safe with his large group of escorts. Indeed, it was not enough. People with this type of risk should hold their meetings in much more controlled environments.
  2. As always, in these cases, and more for the risky and daring choice of the place of attack, it can be assured that the officer was followed for a prolonged period of time, without this being detected in a timely manner, so, as always, counter-surveillance was not implemented.
  3. The vehicles with armament and rim pocha were found at the site and were there, no doubt, before the well-planned attack, unnoticed by the protectors, as early warning is not part of most protectors' operations today.
  4. It cannot be assumed that a hotel or restaurant is a safe place, so protectors should not just be outside. The deployment of shadow (undercover) agents may have helped by taking surprise action against the aggressors if all else failed.

Once again, unfortunately, we were able to realize that an armed and numerous operation is not necessarily effective, quite the contrary. It was not a lack of resources, but rather a lack of knowledge to protect the official's life. Knowing the protective logistics, having the protectors operate in a different scheme, prioritizing counter-surveillance, early warning and non-conventional protection, are factors that would have made the difference. Only a radical change in the way of operating can make this profession safer for both the protected and the protectors.