By KELIN DILLON
Following accusations that Mexico’s National Guard has been using its security post at the Mexico City International Airport (AICM) to smuggle drugs, cash and contraband, on top of other security failures, the National Guard and its privately contracted co-collaborators have been removed from their position at the airport in favor of replacement by members of the Naval Secretariat (Semar).
After Semar announced the creation of the Coordinator of the Airport Security Strategy and the Naval Unit for Airport Protection of the AICM on Monday, Feb. 21, more than 1,500 naval personnel were distributed to the AICM’s terminals one and two to carry out surveillance and safety mechanisms within the facility.
The Navy had been tasked to work in tandem with other federal agencies and certain private security enterprises to accomplish their requisites, which include reviewing customs, immigration, inspections, baggage claim and helping combat theft of air passengers. Similarly, the marine elements will be given access to video surveillance rooms and air traffic control towers, as well as access to dogs trained to locate drugs and money on planes.
However, members of private security companies operating in the AICM in tandem have expressed their concern surrounding the addition of the marine forces, claiming the group to be intimidating and going beyond the scope of what the National Guard had previously done in its supervising role.
“The marines get behind you, and they are scary, because sometimes they come with a trained dog and they even smell your belongings, they see your inspection process and sometimes they suggest you check a bag or suitcase very haughtily,” said one guard from Private Security Technology, while another private guard noted that the addition of the marines duplicates many of the pre-established security measures in the airport.