Armored vehicle sale surge as security tightens for the London Olympics

Fears of a terror attack at the London Olympics has seen demand for heavy-duty armoured cars soar by 200 per cent, it has been revealed.

The International Armoring (CORR) Corporation (IAC) supply heads of state and wealthy businessmen with vehicles that can withstand rocket attacks in some of the most dangerous countries in the world.

Now, they have reported a massive rise in interest from UK-based clients willing to pay up to £60,000 to have their cars secured as the countdown to the Games continues.

Mark Burton, 50, who is chief executive and president of the company who are world leaders in armoured car manufacturing, said: “The UK is one of our two fastest growing markets, along with South Africa.

“There has been a huge increase in interest and I would say it is around 200 per cent in the last year-and-a-half.

“This is a trend that has been going on for a number of years here, probably since the bombings in 2005 occurred.”

Business in Britain is now booming with the eyes of the world on London ahead of the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee.

Mr Burton added: “Here in the UK, there is such an international feel and a lot of individuals who work here are accustomed to a certain level of security in their own country so when they come here, that is something that they want.

“In early 2002, Salt Lake City hosted the Winter Olympics just after the September 11 attacks and we saw the same demands and requirements.

“Local security forces got involved and we are seeing similar interest here from forces who need added protection.

“They have recognised there is a threat and need to be discreet in what they offer.

“We do quite a few government agencies around the world, and a lot of corporations depending on there certain individuals are going and the type of concerns they face.”

The company also produces high-tech vehicles that come complete with James Bond-style grenade-launchers, tear gas and laser cannon.

The cars are created to withstand “almost anything you can bring to your shoulder” such as a rocket launcher, says Mr Burton.

The al-Qaeda attacks in New York in 2001 and London in 2005 have created a flourishing market in the both England and America.

He added: “Before 2000, there was a feeling – a lot like there was in the United States – that it would not happen here.

“But post 9/11, there has been more awareness and these fears have been brought home more.

“People used to find it secure and safe, but now we’re finding it a lot more that people are willing to pay additional amounts of money for peace of mind.

“I think that is because of an increased awareness that the situation out there is of concern.

“In the UK, a lot of it is perceived threat because of who the individual is – because they are wealthy or because of their political affiliation.”

The company are based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and have more than 300 employees worldwide.

Their UK operation is based in Ipswich, Suffolk, where they have 12 members of staff.

Since 1993, they have built and enhanced almost 8,000 vehicles for a variety of clients including more than 40 different heads of state and the Popemobile.

Although they cannot disclose details of customers, they include some of the wealthiest people in the world.

Mr Burton said: “In terms of highest demand, there is a lot of business in countries such as Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, the Phillipines and all over the Middle East too, such as Pakistan, Iraq and Saudi Arabia.

“These vehicles are not tanks, but the entire passenger compartment is protected.

“It is like you’re in a cocoon, but doesn’t look like it. If you went past one of our cars, you wouldn’t notice that it was armoured at all.”

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) are currently running a massive test of their preparation for the Olympics.

The operation – dubbed Exercise Olympic Guardian – has seen police, army, navy and RAF working together to test their ability to combat potential threats to the summer Games.

Defence Secretary Phillip Hammond said: “Whilst there is no specific threat to the Games, we have to be ready to assist in delivering a safe and secure Olympics for all to enjoy.”

It was also revealed that surface-to-air missiles could be deployed at six sites in London during the Games.

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FARC Launches attacks in Colombia & Venezuela

In less than two weeks, 19 members of the Colombian security forces have been killed and other 16 have been wounded at the Colombia-Venezuela border. The killings were perpetrated by two fronts of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) that assault Colombians and Venezuelans in the area.
The Colombian Army blamed the recent massacres on the 33rd and 59th FARC Fronts. One of the attacks occurred on May 10th at the Norte de Santander Department (Colombia), specifically in La Gabarra, located south of Zulia state (northwest Venezuela). There, seven Colombian National Police officers were killed.
“These men and their partners managed to penetrate the criminal heart of the 33rd Front of the FARC, thus achieving, among other results, the eradication of more than 600 hectares of coca leaf crop,” said the Colombian National Police in a press release.
On Monday, twelve Colombian Army troops were killed as they guarded a group of workers repairing electricity pylons. The incident occurred in Majayura, Maicao Municipality of Colombia, some 980 feet away of the northwestern border of Zulia state, Venezuela.
Colombian Ministry of Defense Juan Carlos Pinzón blamed the attack on the 59th FARC Front, which according to him, has had a base in Venezuela “for quite a long time.”
An overview of the fronts
The 59th FARC Front belongs to the so-called Caribbean Block. The Chief of the First Army Division, Brigadier General Jorge Eliécer Suárez Ortiz, said last March to Colombian newspaper El Heraldo de Colombia that it was formed by 132 men.
This front reportedly operates in La Guajira Department (northwest Colombia) and in places such as La Villa del Rosario and Machiques de Perijá (Zulia state). According to news website Minuto30.com, the head of the aforesaid Front is a.k.a. Leonardo Guerra, who is wanted by Colombia. Authorities have offered a USD 227,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
Meanwhile, the 33rd FARC Front is part of the Magdalena Medio Block, which is commanded by a.k.a. Rogelio, who acts with his alleged partner, Víctor Ramón Navarro (a.k.a. Megateo). Navarro comes from Colombian guerrilla group People s Liberation Army (EPL). Colombia offers USD 1.071 for his capture.
Presence in Venezuela
Reports about guerrilla camps in Venezuela are not new. In 2010, the Ambassador of Colombia to the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Alfonso Hoyos, presented to the Permanent Assembly a report about the presence of 87 FARC camps located some 13-15 kilometers inside Venezuelan territory.
The 33rd FARC Front reportedly was responsible for the killing of five Venezuelan military officers and an engineer of Pdvsa in Apure state (northwestern Venezuela) in 2004. The case was reported by the Regional Chief of the Scientific, Criminal and Forensic Investigation Agency (Cicpc), Eddie Alberto Ramírez, who was later dismissed from office.

Ex-cop pleads guilty to organizing cartel hit squad.

(Reuters) – A former Mexican police officer accused of organizing a hit squad for the once-powerful Tijuana drug cartel pleaded guilty in a U.S. federal court on Friday to racketeering and drug trafficking, prosecutors said.

Carlos Cosme, 36, was an officer with the Baja California State Attorney General’s Office when he hired a colleague to set up a hit squad for the Tijuana cartel, which dominated trafficking to California in the 1980s and 1990s.

That officer, Jose Ortega Nuno, a supervisor with the office’s sex crimes unit, pleaded guilty to federal racketeering charges in December 2011, prosecutors said.

Both men were among a group of 42 suspects arrested in California in July 2010.

The Tijuana cartel, which was run by the Arellano-Felix brothers, funneled hundreds of millions of dollars worth of narcotics to U.S. markets.

After the death and capture of many of its leaders over the past decade, including three Arellano-Felix brothers who headed the clan, the feared cartel is now a shadow of its former self.

The rival Sinaloa cartel, run by Mexico’s most-wanted man, Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, has largely taken over the cartel’s valuable turf in Tijuana.

Cosme admitted to conspiring to commit murder and to selling and importing several pounds of methamphetamine for the Tijuana cartel in court, prosecutors said.

His guilty plea is the 39th conviction in a massive multi-agency effort to target drug cartel operations on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border that resulted in a 2010 indictment.

The lead defendant in that indictment, Armando Villareal-Heredia, was extradited to the United States to face charges earlier this week.

Cosme faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a fine of more than $10 million. He will be sentenced on August 27.

In April, cartel kingpin Benjamin Arellano-Felix was sentenced to 25 years in U.S. federal prison for drug trafficking, racketeering and money laundering.

His brother Ramon, the cartel’s flamboyant enforcer, died in a shoot-out in 2002. Francisco Javier is serving a life sentence in U.S. federal prison after being captured on a fishing boat in 2006. Eduardo is in jail in Mexico awaiting extradition.

Roughly 55,000 people have been killed in drug-related violence in Mexico in the past six years as rival cartels fight each other and government forces.

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(Additional reporting by Lizbeth Diaz in Mexico City; Editing by Tim Gaynor and Stacey Joyce)