Armored Cars and Sniper Rifles: Inside Latin America's Biggest Security Expo
Sirens echoing, lights blinking, gunshots, federal police officers, models dressed as police officers, armoured cars, sniper uniforms, fog chambers, and guns, many guns. A place for all your needs, safety-wise. Be the sniper of your dreams. Don’t be shy, come and hold this machine gun. Photographs and introductory text by Adriana Zehbrauskas/Bloomberg
It was a little odd to walk through the brightly lit, 13,000 square feet of hallways of Expo Seguridad in Mexico City. The exposition in late April was crowded with smiling people carrying shopping bags of brochures for thermal cameras, trained dogs, DNA forensic expert services, bulletproof vests, and intel solutions. And there they were: I recognized the uniforms of Mexico's Federal Police from the time I embedded with them, flying over marijuana fields in Sinaloa and riding in the back of a truck along the Tamaulipas/U.S. border to bust an illegal bridge over the Rio Grande. I remembered wearing one of these uniforms. So this is where they come from, I thought. It suddenly felt very personal.
I left Expo Seguridad after a few hours of walking, somewhat dizzy from all the sounds and blinking lights and thinking about the thousands of people still missing in Mexico, the hundreds of clandestine graves found in recent years, all the journalists killed for doing their jobs. (Mexico is in the top 20 list of deadliest countries for journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.) The drug war alone has left at least 70,000 people dead and more than 20,000 missing since 2006.
There’s a reason why this is the largest security expo in Latin America. Nothing to be proud of, though.