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The Implications of Organised Crime for Companies Operating in Mexico

What impact does organised criminal activity have on companies operating in Mexico? What is the chance of falling victim to a crime linked to drug cartels? What best practices exist to mitigate the security risks in areas with high levels of violence?

Organised criminal groups and the impact they have on both foreign and domestic companies operating in Mexico are constantly evolving. Although the presence of such groups is nothing new, the way in which they are organised as well as their internal structure has evolved and become ever more unpredictable. Even just a few years ago, it was widely considered that there were only a handful of criminal groups in Mexico slowly building up armed branches to protect their operations, while at the same time expanding their criminal activities into new sectors. The situation is much different today. We are now faced with a highly polarised environment in which local gangs have become increasingly important, and violence continues to increase.

Traditionally, international companies have not been direct targets of criminal groups involved in drug trafficking, though there are exceptions. The most common events such as road blockades and shoot-outs pose concerns for anyone travelling through or operating in the affected area, thus impacting business continuity for local and international organisations in areas with high levels of violence. 

At International SOS, we seek to mitigate the risks and threats our clients in Mexico face.

Clients consistently contact us to receive guidance on new risks, threats and modus operandi of criminal groups, as well as best practices to mitigate the impact to their operations. This typically occurs after the company itself or someone within its circle of partners or contacts has been the victim of a crime.  Consistent with such cases, one of the first recommendations we make is identifying levels of impact and differentiating between direct and indirect impact. This will allow companies to better understand the problem and thus implement more precise mitigation strategies. Below are just a few of the potential implications of organised crime. 

Direct Impact Indirect Impact
  • Road blockades
  • Highway robberies
  • Kidnap of workforce
  • Piracy
  • Extortion (protection payment)
  • Employee fraud
  • Cyber fraud
  • Human trafficking
  • Migrant trafficking
  • Contract killing
  • Fuel theft
  • Natural resource smuggling
  • Loan sharking

Nevertheless, other crimes not necessarily linked to drug trafficking have increased despite movement restrictions in 2020 and 2021, such as fraud and domestic violence. 

Security incidents linked to organised crime and crimes under state jurisdiction are constantly evolving, thus requiring continuous analysis of constant indicators such as those shown below. 


Source: Executive Secretariat of the National Public Security System in partnership with Dataint. September, 2022.

What are best practices to prevent these types of crimes?

1. Prevention
  • Intelligence collection and analysis.
  • Tracking information on incidents in the region.
  • Monitoring open sources: social media and news media.
  • Develop a human intelligence network to receive updates.
  • Monitor Mexico’s security alerting system for actionable measures for companies.
  • Robust private security programmes (workforce training).
  • Offer training in preventative security.
  • Update route reviews and assessments.
  • Develop a relationship with regional associations to confirm information.
  • Identify risk areas and update these in security plans.
  • Add GPS and panic buttons to vehicles of high-profile staff.
  • Minimise travel and prioritise journeys carried out for essential purposes.
2. Reaction
  • Review escalation plans.
  • Review journey management planning (update them).
  • Carefully plan all aspects of your itinerary prior to travel, including accommodation, transport, communication and security. Such measures include travelling in a private vehicle and with a trusted driver and carrying out all movements during daylight hours only. Travel plans should allow sufficient time for potential delays, such as vehicle breakdowns.
  • Monitor our Mexico security alerts.

How can we help you?

Some of these security solutions are included in subscriptions for local workforce in Mexico. We have also supported our clients with specific tasks such as route assessments for supply chains and site security reviews. 

At International SOS Mexico Security Solutions, we provide unmatched information and assistance that support business resiliency and allow companies to mitigate the main threats they face in their operations and travel. Our Workforce Resilience programme supports in-country people managers, on-site workforce, domestic and international travellers, international assignees and home or office workforce. 

Our Service prepares your workforce for multi-layered risk environments, helps them feel supported and productive, and provides them with assistance whenever they are faced with a question, doubt or crisis. 

For more information on how we can assist you, complete the form below.

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