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Sales of armored cars soar 10% in Mexico as drug war escalates

Sales of armored cars in Mexico in 2012 were up 10 percent from the previous year, the Mexican Automotive Armour Association says, according to reports

The MAAA reported a total of 3,102 armored vehicles purchases for the year, 70 percent of which were made by the private sector. Government purchases made up the remaining 30 percent, according to MAAA president Fernando Echeverri, cited by Fox New Latino.

The armored car industry has expanded rapidly in Mexico, where the death toll from the war on drugs jumped to about 11,000 in 2011, Fox wrote.

Buyers are seeking vehicles capable of stopping the rounds fired by weapons that criminal organizations use, Echeverri reportedly said in a statement, alluding to drug gangs.

Armoring of automobiles "is now linked more to issues of public, private and even national safety ... helping us deal with criminals," said Echeverri.

The most popular vehicles to transform, according to Mexico's MAAA, were Chevrolet's Suburban and Tahoe SUVs and Jeep's Grand Cherokee.

An auto shop owner in Mexico told ABC News in July: "I would say in the last four years, the business is up 1,000 percent. It’s huge."

A year earlier, Wired magazine profiled a San Antonio, Texas company that was transforming regular vehicles into armored cars. At that time, Mexico's armored-car industry was worth $80 million a year and growing at a rate of 10 percent per year, according to Wired.

Texas Armoring Corporation president Trent Kimball told Wired that while his company didn't sell cars to drug lords, he knew of Mexican cartels that had begun building their own tanks.

Kimball added that 20 percent of his clients either lived or work in Mexico, and were concerned about a sharp increase in crime and the threat of kidnapping.

Business was so good in the US at that time that his company had increased its workforce 30 percent from the previous year. 

According to Carmag.com, it is believed that Mexico is second only to Colombia in terms of number of kidnappings in Latin American countries.

More from GlobalPost: Mexico: Drug war leaves 25,000 missing

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/weird-wide-web/armored-cars-mexico-drug-wars-cartels-kidnappings