Executive Protection Academy

Executive Protection Academy

The tragedy of executive protection in Mexico: The myth of numerous and armed operatives claims 12 lives

In a tragic event for executive protection in our country, last Monday, October 23, in the town of Papayo, Mexico, the Secretary of Security of Coyuca de Benitez, Alfredo Alonso Lopez, and the Director of Police, Honorio Salinas Garay, were assassinated in an ambush, along with up to 10 policemen who acted as their protectors.

This incident has become one of the bloodiest and deadliest attacks on record to date. It is unfortunate proof that a large and heavily armed operation alone is not effective. Even with 10 protectors armed with high-powered rifles, lives could not be saved and executives could not be protected in the face of a well-organized enemy and a carefully planned and executed ambush.


This is due to a lethal bias that causes protectees, protectors and some security administrators to mistakenly think that executive protection is based on guns and reaction, even though there is no scientific evidence to support this fact; quite the contrary. According to international studies, weapons and reaction fail 96.2% of the time when tested under real-world conditions. However, most current protection schemes are constructed as if these tools are 100% effective.

Executive Protection and the Use of Firearms - A Study of a Representative Sample

This deadly bias has caused, in Mexico alone and in the last 14 months, the death of 12 executives and 28 of their escorts, totaling 40 deaths in just over a year. This makes executive protection a highly deadly profession for both service providers and users, and all due to misconception and practice.

It is important to understand that simply placing any number of escorts on a follower vehicle with any type of weaponry is not effective and, in fact, may create a false sense of security. If the attacker is not deterred by the number of protectors and armament, as happened in this case and many others, the result will be fatal.

Regarding the event to which we refer, we do not have enough information to perform an in-depth analysis. However, what evidently failed or did not exist is the following:

Intelligence: there was no knowledge of the movements and activities of hostile groups in the area of displacement, despite the fact that the protégés were high-ranking police officers with access to privileged information.

2. Counterintelligence: the aggressors evidently had critical information on the places of movement, schedules, weapons, state of strength of the protectors, etc., which allowed them to carry out the attack in a forceful manner. This information was not properly protected or handled.

3. Early warning: carrying out an ambush capable of neutralizing 10 heavily armed agents requires a large mobilization and logistical and operational deployment, which should have been easily detected in the hours prior to the attack, in specific locations along the route. If the protection team had known about and implemented this type of advance operations, the preparation of the attack would have been detected much earlier and the protectees would have been prevented from falling into the trap.

4. Finally, it is important to emphasize once again that police officers without specialized training in executive protection are not effective and may even be counterproductive.

It is urgent to change the methodology based on reaction and close protection to adopt systems based on anticipation and early deactivation of threats. Only in this way will we be able to have a safer profession for both the protected and the protectors.