Border Security Smugglers and High Risk Travelers Enter the United StatesGP0|#21788f65-8908-49e8-9957-45375db8bd4f;L0|#021788f65-8908-49e8-9957-45375db8bd4f|National Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a43444652017-05-04T04:00:00Z, Lilly Chapa<p>​It’s no secret that transnational crime organizations get creative when it comes to smuggling contraband from Mexico to the United States, but with increased security along the border comes increasingly extravagant efforts by criminals to avoid security measures, a new U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released earlier this week found. </p><p>Smugglers build cross-border tunnels, which range from rudimentary, shallow tunnels to interconnected tunnels with lighting, railways, and ventilation and connect to existing municipal infrastructure such as sewer systems. Single seat, ultralight aircraft weighing 250 pounds or less can carry large baskets of drugs across the border. And a variety of boats, pangas, and submarines can shuttle large quantities of contraband. </p><p>In its report, titled <em><a href="">Border Security: Additional Actions Could Strengthen DHS Efforts to Address Subterranean, Aerial, and Maritime Smuggling</a></em>, GAO discovered 67 cross-border tunnels, 54 of which were sophisticated and interconnected. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) share responsibility for countering tunnel threats and found that the drug most confiscated in the tunnels was marijuana—from 2011 to 2016, more than 106,600 pounds of marijuana was seized, the report found. Smuggling rates via tunnels, air, and boats have generally decreased since 2011, although GAO found an increase in migrant smuggling via panga and recreational boats off the Florida coast.</p><p>The GAO report concluded that CBP and ICE should increase their use of technology, performance measuring, and agency collaboration to better address the smuggling threat. “By establishing performance measures and regularly monitoring performance against targets, managers could obtain valuable information on successful approaches and areas that could be improved to help ensure that both technology investments and operational responses to address smuggling through cross-border tunnels, ultralight aircraft, panga boats, and recreational vessels are effective,” according to the report.</p><p>But what about identifying high-risk travelers that could pose a threat to the United States? DHS has a number of programs in place to identify and interdict high-risk travelers seeking to arrive in the United States via airplane, such as foreign fighters and potential terrorists, human traffickers, and drug smugglers. CBP identified and prohibited more than 22,000 travelers from flying to the United States in 2015 alone, but there is no way to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the high-risk traveler programs, GAO found in its report <em><a href="">Progress and Challenges in DHS's Efforts to Address High-Risk Travelers and Strengthen Visa Security</a></em>, released yesterday.</p><p>The report also addressed the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows nationals from 38 countries to apply for a temporary visa to travel to the United States. The VWP has been around since 1986, but was updated in 2015 to address the modern-day terrorist threat. ​As part of the agreement, countries participating in the U.S. VWP agreed to share information regarding lost or stolen passports, identity information about known or suspected terrorists, and criminal history information. </p><p>However, GAO found that a third of the countries are not sharing terrorist identity information, which the report noted “has enhanced U.S. traveler screening capabilities and improved U.S. agencies’ ability to prevent known and suspected terrorists from traveling to the United States.” DHS has agreed to continue to work with VWP companies to implement all program requirements.</p>

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 You May Also Like... Tension<p>​When the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced last August that it planned to phase out and eventually close 13 private prisons, it was seen as a victory for the prison reform movement. Privately run prisons “incurred more safety and security incidents per capita” than those run by the government, according to a DOJ report released shortly before the announcement. </p><p>Numerous critical investigations on private prisons, as well as the DOJ report and decision, inspired other federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), to reassess their use of the facilities. But, despite allegations of inhumane conditions and dissention among DHS advisors, it appears immigration detention centers will continue to be contracted out to private corporations.</p><p>In an unusual series of events, a DHS Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC) subcommittee issued a report finding that federally run facilities used for the civil detention of immigrants during immigration hearings are more beneficial, but less cost effective. “Much could be said for a fully government-owned and government-operated detention model, if one were starting a new detention system from scratch,” the report noted. “But of course we are not starting anew.” Just one of the six subcommittee members dissented with the report’s recommendation to continue using private detention facilities, but when the issue was brought to the broader council for a vote, HSAC recommended that DHS oppose the report’s conclusion and close private facilities.</p><p>However, the vote may be more symbol than substance because the HSAC serves in an advisory role to DHS decision makers. Any action on the matter now rests with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. In the interim, ICE has already renewed or expanded 15 private and local prison contracts to add 3,600 beds to its arsenal, including reopening a private correctional center in New Mexico that was shut down last year following a series of inmate deaths and reports of deficient medical care.</p><p>The HSAC report’s recommendation appears to be out of necessity—as of November 2016, ICE held more than 40,000 people in 197 immigrant detention centers, even though Congress has currently approved and funded the use of 32,000 beds, according to ICE. Individuals confined in ICE facilities can be held only for the purpose of detaining and removing them from the country. Immigrant detention numbers have already reached record-breaking levels and are expected to continue growing–U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to deport 2 to 3 million immigrants, further straining the facilities. </p><p>“Capacity to handle such surges, when policymakers determine that detention will be part of the response, cannot reasonably be maintained solely through the use of facilities staffed and operated by federal officers,” the report states. “Fiscal considerations, combined with the need for realistic capacity to handle sudden increases in detention, indicate that DHS’s use of private for-profit detention will continue.”</p><p>The cost of building and operating enough federally run detention facilities to phase out private detention centers, which make up two-thirds of all immigration centers, would cost billions of dollars and not be a good use of government resources, the report notes.</p><p>There have been numerous contributing factors to the increase in detainees held by ICE. A controversial 2009 addition to ICE’s detention budget stating that funding would be made available to “maintain a level of not less than 33,400 detention beds” was interpreted by ICE as a mandate to contract for and to fill that number of beds on a daily basis. This so-called immigrant detention quota has correlated with the expanded detainee population, as well as the involvement of private prison corporations in ICE facility operations, according to Payoff: How Congress Ensures Private Prison Profit with an Immigrant Detention Quota, a 2015 report by nonprofit Grassroots Leadership. The quota system is unique to ICE—no other law enforcement agency operates in such a fashion.</p><p>“Since just before the onset of the quota, the private prison industry has increased its share of immigrant detention beds by 13 percent,” the report states. “Nine of the ten largest ICE detention centers are private. This is particularly noteworthy in light of the expansion of the entire ICE detention system by nearly 47 percent in the last decade.” </p><p>Immigration patterns have also bloated the number of immigrants held in detention centers. An unprecedented surge of Central American women and children to the United States in 2014 created overcrowding, resulting in the construction of the nation’s largest immigration detention center by a private prison corporation. A more recent influx of asylum seekers and immigrants who have been in the United States for years but are now facing exile has continued to strain the facilities.</p><p>Holding immigrants in privately run detention centers is easier on taxpayers’ wallets, ICE says. More than $2 billion in taxes goes to the country’s prison system each year, and lowering that cost is a big incentive to use private facilities, the report notes. Federally run detention centers are notoriously more expensive than their private counterparts—it costs about $127 a day to hold a person in a private facility, versus more than $180 in a government facility. And completely doing away with private facilities and replacing them with federally run ones would cost up to $6 billion, according to the HSAC report. </p><p>Despite the lower price tag for private facilities, prison corporations have seen their profits rise over the past six years—GEO Group, which owns a quarter of all ICE immigrant detention centers, has seen a 244 percent profit increase from 2010 to 2014, the Grassroots Leadership report found. The private prison companies have also spent millions of dollars lobbying on immigration issues and DHS appropriations, according to Grassroots Leadership.</p><p>To civil rights organizations, the increase in private detention facilities means not only the monetization of detainees but centers that do not have to abide by federal quality control. The DOJ report on private facilities notes that contract compliance checklists do not address federal health and correctional services requirements.</p><p>“The observation steps do not include checks on whether inmates received initial examinations, immunizations, and tuberculosis tests…[and] does not include observation steps to ensure searches of certain areas of the prison, such as inmate housing units or recreation, work, and medical areas, or for validating actual correctional officer staffing levels and the daily correctional officer duty rosters,” the DOJ report notes.</p><p>The nonprofit Human Rights Watch website stresses that those kept in immigrant detention centers are not criminals—they are often legal permanent residents, families with young children, or asylum seekers in the midst of civil immigration proceedings. For years, Human Rights Watch and similar organizations have documented abuse and substandard medical care in privately run detention facilities. For example, three people died in detention facilities between October and December 2016. </p><p>While the future of ICE immigration facilities will continue to involve privately run centers despite HSAC dissent, the council did agree with portions of the report’s recommendations that ICE must increase oversight of nonfederal detention facilities. The report found that county jails, which are often used for initial detention and staging, do not have to follow ICE facility standards and should be used for detaining immigrants for no more than 72 hours before moving them to a federal facility. The document also outlined the need for more stringent inspections of nonfederal facilities, including unannounced inspections and meaningful evaluations of conditions in each facility.</p><p>“U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement appreciates the Homeland Security Advisory Council’s recent review of the agency’s use of private contract detention facilities,” says ICE spokesperson Danielle Bennett. “The council’s report recognizes ICE’s ongoing commitment to providing a secure and humane environment for those in our custody while making the best use of agency resources. ICE’s civil detention system aims to reduce transfers, maximize access to counsel and visitation, promote recreation, improve conditions of confinement and ensure quality medical, mental health and dental care. ICE leadership will review and consider the council’s recommendations and will implement any changes, as appropriate.” ​ ​</p>GP0|#21788f65-8908-49e8-9957-45375db8bd4f;L0|#021788f65-8908-49e8-9957-45375db8bd4f|National Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465 Report January 2017<h4>u.s. LEGISLATION<br></h4><p class="p1">114th U.S. Congressional Wrap-up. This month’s “Legal Report” is a round-up of the major security-related legislation considered by the 114th U.S. Congress, which concluded at the beginning of this month. Included in this summary are public laws that went into effect and legislation that was introduced but failed to pass. The bills that failed to pass will be nullified, and members of Congress will have to reintroduce them when they reconvene early in January as part of the 115th Congress.</p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Terrorism. </b>Congress reauthorized the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program, which allows the federal government to repay business costs following a catastrophic attack that costs more than $200 million in damages. </p><p class="p1">The law (P.L. 114-1) extends the program through December 31, 2020, and includes measures absent from the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) of 2002, such as new provisions increasing the original trigger amount from $100 million to $200 million and requiring the secretary of treasury to create a “reasonable timeline” to determine whether to certify an event as an act of terrorism.</p><p class="p1">Congress overrode President Barack Obama’s veto, allowing legislation to become law that gives terrorism victims and their families the ability to sue foreign states and officials for their role in an act of terrorism.</p><p class="p1">The veto override enacted the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (P.L. 114-222), which removes sovereign immunity in U.S. courts from foreign governments that are not designated state sponsors of terrorism. It authorizes U.S. courts to hear cases involving claims against a foreign state for injuries, death, or damages that occur inside the United States as a result of a tort—including an act of terrorism—committed anywhere by a foreign state or official.</p><p class="p1">Legislation that would have created a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office for Countering Violent Extremism failed to advance in Congress.</p><p class="p1">The bill (H.R. 2899) would have authorized $10 million for the DHS secretary to establish the office through 2020 to coordinate DHS’s efforts to counter violent extremism by identifying risk factors and populations targeted by propaganda and recruiters. Managing DHS outreach and engagement efforts to at-risk communities was also included.</p><p class="p1">House Homeland Security Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced the bill, which did not advance in the House.</p><p class="p1">The House also failed to pass a bill that would have encouraged banks to tip off federal investigators about terrorism financing. H.R. 5606 would have enhanced Section 314 of the Patriot Act to allow financial institutions to report to the federal government if they suspected funds were being used for “terrorist acts, money laundering activities, or a specified unlawful activity.” </p><p class="p1">The bill also would have shielded financial institutions from civil litigation for filing these reports. </p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Cybersecurity. </b>As part of an omnibus spending bill in 2015, Congress passed the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (P.L. 114-110).</p><p class="p1">The act allows private entities to share and receive cyberthreat indicators and defensive measures with other entities and with the federal government. Threat indicators are defined as information that is “necessary to describe or identify malicious reconnaissance.”</p><p class="p1">Companies, however, must remove personal identifying information not related to cybersecurity threats before sharing data under the act.</p><p class="p1">It also allows the director of national intelligence and the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice to share cyberthreat indicators with private companies and state, tribal, or local governments.</p><p class="p1">Congress failed to advance legislation that would have directed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create federal standards to secure vehicles.</p><p class="p1">The bill (S. 1806) would have created vehicle performance standards that required all access points in vehicles to be equipped with reasonable measures to protect against hacking attacks, all collected information from the vehicle to be secured to prevent unwanted access, and all vehicles to be equipped with technology that can detect, report, and stop hacking attempts in real time.</p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Aviation. </b>Congress passed legislation (P.L. 114-50) that verifies that airports have working plans in place to respond to security incidents inside their perimeters. </p><p class="p1">The law directs the assistant secretary of homeland security to verify at all U.S. airports that the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) performs or oversees implementation of security measures and that airports have working plans in place to respond to active shooters, acts of terrorism, and incidents that target passenger-screening checkpoints.</p><p class="p1">The assistant secretary must then report his or her findings to Congress to identify best practices and establish a mechanism to share those with other airport operators.</p><p class="p1">Congress failed, however, to pass a bill that would limit airport employees’ access to secure areas within airport facilities. </p><p class="p1">The bill (H.R. 3102) would have directed the TSA to create a risk-based, intelligence-driven model for screening airport employees based on the level of employment-related access to Secure Identification Display Areas, Airport Operations Areas, or secure areas at U.S. airports. </p><p class="p1">Additionally, it would have required TSA to create a program to allow airport badging offices to use E-Verify, create a process to transmit applicants’ fingerprint data to a federal office for vetting, and assess credential application data received by DHS to ensure that it’s complete and matches data submitted by airport operators.</p><p class="p1">The House passed the bill, which stalled in the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.</p><p class="p1">In a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) extension act, Congress created a variety of new security measures to enhance aviation security.</p><p class="p1">Under the law (P.L. 114-190), the number of government “viper teams” increased from 30 to 60. These teams stop and search suspicious passengers in public places outside the airport.</p><p class="p1">Another measure requires new passenger airlines to create secondary barriers to keep unauthorized individuals from gaining access when a pilot opens the cockpit door. It also requires the FAA to consider whether to implement additional screening for mental health conditions as part of a comprehensive medical certification process for pilots.</p><p class="p1">Additionally, the law requires TSA to use private companies to market and enroll more individuals in its PreCheck program. It also requires the FAA to authorize package deliveries by drones within two years of its passage.</p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Drones. </b>Congress failed to pass legislation that would address the security implications of drones. </p><p class="p1">The bill (H.R. 1646) would have required DHS to assess the security risks associated with commercially available small and medium unmanned aerial systems (drones). The measure would also have required DHS to develop policies, guidance, and protocols to prevent or mitigate the risks if drones are used in an attack.</p><p class="p1">The House passed the legislation, which later stalled in the Senate.</p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Privacy. </b>Congress extended some rights under the U.S. Privacy Act to European Union citizens and other designated allies.</p><p class="p1">The Judicial Redress Act (P.L. 114-129) allows the U.S. Department of Justice—with the agreement of the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, and Homeland Security—to designate countries or organizations whose citizens may pursue civil remedies if they have appropriate privacy protections for sharing information with the United States.</p><p class="p1">The law was enacted as part of an agreement between the United States and the European Union that allows the two to exchange more data during criminal and terrorism investigations.</p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Human trafficking. </b>Congress expanded the definition of child abuse under the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 to include human trafficking and the production of child pornography.</p><p class="p1">The law (P.L. 114-22) also expands prosecution to include individuals who patronize or solicit people for a commercial sex act, “making traffickers and buyers equally culpable for sex trafficking offenses.”</p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Communications. </b>A new law requires DHS to achieve and maintain interoperable communications. The law (P.L. 114-29) requires a DHS undersecretary to submit a strategy to Congress to achieve and maintain communications for daily operations, planned events, and emergencies. </p><p class="p1">The strategy must include an assessment of interoperability gaps in radio communications among DHS groups, information on DHS efforts to achieve and maintain interoperable communications, and information about the adequacy of mechanisms available to the undersecretary to enforce and compel compliance with interoperable communications policies and directives of DHS.</p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Screening.</b> Congress did not advance a bill that would require the FBI to ensure that select individuals applying for U.S. refugee admission receive full background investigations before being admitted to the country.</p><p class="p1">DHS already conducts such screenings, but the bill (H.R. 4038) would have required the FBI to perform background investigations on nationals or residents from Iraq or Syria, individuals with no nationality whose last residence was in Iraq or Syria, and individuals present in Iraq and Syria at any time on or after March 1, 2011. </p><p class="p1">The House passed the bill, which stalled when it reached the Senate floor.</p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Disaster relief. </b>Congress passed legislation that requires the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to develop and implement a plan to control and reduce administrative costs for delivering assistance for major disasters.</p><p class="p1">Under the law (P.L. 114-132), FEMA must compare the costs and benefits of tracking administrative cost data for major disasters by public assistance, individual assistance, hazard mitigation, and mission assignment programs. </p><p class="p1">FEMA must then submit to Congress by November 30 each year—until 2023—a report on the total amount spent on administrative costs. </p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Prisons.</b> Congress authorized legislation that requires the director of the Bureau of Prisons to issue oleoresin capsicum spray (pepper spray) to designated individuals.</p><p class="p1">The law (P.L. 114-133) requires the director to issue the spray to any bureau officer or prison employee who may respond to an emergency situation in the prison. The law also allows the director to distribute the spray to other prison officers and employees as appropriate. Minimum and low-security prisons are excluded from the requirement.</p><p class="p1">Officers and employees designated to use the spray must first be trained on how to use it, and are required to under­­­go annual training on using the spray. </p><p class="p1">Equipment. The Senate failed to pass legislation that would have allowed DHS to give excess nonlethal equipment and supplies to foreign governments.</p><p class="p1">Under the bill (H.R. 4314), DHS would have provided these supplies to foreign governments if doing so furthered U.S. homeland security interests and enhanced the recipient government’s capacity to mitigate the threat of terrorism, infectious disease, or natural disaster; protect lawful trade and travel; or enforce intellectual property rights.</p><p class="p1">The House passed the bill, which stalled in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.</p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Sexual assault. </b>Congress established rights for sexual assault survivors that clarify what basic services sexual violence victims are entitled to.</p><p class="p1">Under the law (P.L. 114-236), victims may not be prevented from obtaining a medical forensic examination. They may not be charged for the examination. They have the right to have sexual assault evidence collection kits and their contents preserved—without charge—for the duration of the maximum statute of limitations or 20 years (whichever is shorter). They also have the right to be informed of any result of a collection kit if the disclosure would not impede or compromise an ongoing investigation.</p><p class="p1">Victims also have the right to be informed—in writing—of policies governing the collection and preservation of collection kits, and the right to receive written notification from officials no later than 60 days before their collection kit is to be destroyed or disposed of.</p><h4>Elsewhere in the Courts</h4><p class="p1"><b>POLICING. </b>The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court found that the behavior of a young, black, male suspect who tried to avoid the police did not justify law enforcement to stop and search him. “Rather, the finding that black males in Boston are disproportionately and repeatedly targeted for Field Interrogation Observations encounters suggests a reason for flight totally unrelated to consciousness of guilt,” the court explained in its ruling. “Such an individual, when approached by the police, might just as easily be motivated by the desire to avoid the recurring indignity of being racially profiled as by the desire to hide criminal activity.” (Commonwealth v. Warren, Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, No. 11956, 2016)</p><p class="p1"><b>Excessive Force. </b>The U.S. Supreme Court did not take up a case where police officers challenged restrictions on the use of Tasers on individuals who are resisting arrest. The Court’s decision leaves in place a lower court opinion, which ruled that police should not use stun guns on individuals trying to evade custody if they do not pose a threat to officers or others. The decision stems from a court case brought after the 2011 death of Ronald Armstrong, a mentally ill man who was tased by police five times for refusing to let go of a sign post to avoid being taken to a hospital. The lower court found that police used excessive force because Armstrong did not pose a safety risk. (Estate of Ronald H. Armstrong v. Village of Pinehurst, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, No. 15-1191, 2016) </p><p class="p2"><br></p><p class="p1"><b>Sexual harassment. </b>The owner/operator and management company for a Columbus, Ohio, Texas Roadhouse restaurant will pay $1.4 million to settle a class sexual harassment suit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC charged that East Columbus Host, LLC, and management company Ultra Steak, Inc., victimized a group of female employees by subjecting them to sexual harassment and then retaliating against them for complaining about it. The restaurant manager allegedly made humiliating remarks about victims and other females’ bodies and sexuality, and pressured them for sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits or as a condition of avoiding adverse employment action. The consent decree resolving the lawsuit requires the companies to offer reinstatement to injured women in agreed locations and positions. The companies are also prohibited from rehiring the offending manager. (EEOC v. East Columbus Host, LLC, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, No. 2:14-cv-1696, 2016).​</p>GP0|#28ae3eb9-d865-484b-ac9f-3dfacb4ce997;L0|#028ae3eb9-d865-484b-ac9f-3dfacb4ce997|Strategic Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465 Disorder<p>​Mexico, sometimes maligned during political campaigns, nonetheless remains vital to the economic interests of many nations. For the many companies doing business there, security remains a crucial concern.      </p><p>And that security landscape is becoming more complicated, due in large part to the dynamics of the drug trade, experts say. The homicide rate in Mexico increased by 15 percent during the first six months of 2016 compared with the previous year, with approximately 9,400 people murdered across the country in that time period, according to a recent study, iJET's Quarterly Report: Organized Crime and Drug-Related Violence in Mexico.</p><p>Underlying this rise is a resurgence of activity by drug-trafficking organizations (DTOs), with dozens of DTOs fighting pitched battles for territory. </p><p>“They are engaged in turf wars on multiple fronts,” said Justin Kersey, intelligence manager for iJet’s Americas team, at a recent briefing on Mexico’s security situation.</p><p>Some DTOs are expanding into new territories in Mexico, so that a majority of Mexican states are now seeing organized drug-related crime. Increased demand for methamphetamine and heroin in the United States is another driver for DTO activity. Mexico’s Sinaloa cartel has been particularly successful in penetrating the U.S. drug market, with a significant presence in places like Chicago, Philadelphia, southern California, the Ohio Valley, and portions of West Virginia and Kentucky, Kersey said.</p><p>With their resurgence, DTOs have now become more integrated with legitimate political and business activity in Mexico, iJet Americas expert Sean Wolinsky said at the briefing. Along with this integration comes rising levels of impunity for DTO criminals; roughly 90 percent of DTO crime goes unreported to police, Wolinsky added.  </p><p>While most DTO-related crimes involve gang members rather than expatriates or unaffiliated business people, “that doesn’t mean that larger multinational corporations are completely immune,” Wolinsky said. Those doing business in Mexico for an extended period of time face some degree of elevated risk, especially regarding four major forms of crime: kidnapping, assault, robbery, and extortion. </p><p>“Anyone operating in Mexico is at risk of becoming collateral damage in these crimes,” Wolinsky said. Mining companies have been recently beset by kidnappings, he added, citing the example of several Goldcorp employees who were abducted and later found dead in Mexico’s Guerrero state last year.</p><p>Two more specialized types of abductions—virtual kidnapping and express kidnapping—have become more common in Mexico recently, experts say. In a virtual kidnapping, a kidnapper will use social media to select a “victim” online by looking for someone with an extended virtual network. The criminal will contact the victim’s friends and family and, claiming to hold the victim hostage, threaten to harm him or her if no ransom is provided.  </p><p>In an express kidnapping, the victim is held for only a short time, anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days. Often, the abductors will force the victim to make as many ATM withdrawals as possible during that short period, then let the victim go.</p><p>Whatever form kidnappings take, they are crimes that can affect victims in ways that employers should be aware of, says Rachel Briggs, executive director of Hostage US, a nonprofit organization that supports hostages and their families during and after kidnappings. </p><p>Briggs has personal experience in these matters; in 1996, her uncle was kidnapped while he was working as an engineer in Colombia, and “for seven-and-a-half months, she and her family were thrown into an alien world of fear, isolation and helplessness as others negotiated for his release,” according to her organization’s website.</p><p>When working on a case, Briggs’ group assigns a team member to be the contact person for the victim’s family members, who are often thrust into the daunting situation of trying to deal with authorities, journalists looking for news, and a host of other parties. </p><p>“You’re suddenly dealing with governments and private security companies, and they speak a different language,” she says. </p><p>Later, if the victim is released and returns to work, his or her employer should be aware of various issues that may arise. Take, for example, an employee working in Mexico who is kidnapped and held in captivity in a windowless room for many months. Returning to work in a small windowless office or cubicle may be problematic for the victim, and could potentially trigger traumatic memories. Even commuting in closed-off spaces, such as a crowded underground train, could be difficult for that individual, Briggs says.</p><p>Similarly, a victim who was held for an extended period of time in solitary confinement may have trouble concentrating in a busy office environment or one with an open floor plan, she adds. </p><p>In addition, there is a common mis­perception that the shorter the time a victim is held in captivity, the less traumatic impact there will be on him or her. </p><p>“In my experience, the reverse tends to be true,” Briggs says. That’s because a hostage who was held for a long period has time to mentally come to terms with what is happening, she explains. In small but important ways, the victim can take control of some of his or her actions, such as deciding to walk around the room every hour, or exercise twice a day, or even whether to eat. This helps them adjust. </p><p>In contrast, a 48-hour “express” kidnapping may seem like a violently disruptive experience that was chaotically terrifying from beginning to end. “The prolonged trauma from that can be much greater,” she says. </p><p>Overall, kidnappings do seem to be on the rise, and not only in Mexico, Briggs adds. For example, more terrorists are using short-term hostage situations as a tactic: the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando, the Bataclan Theater attack in Paris, and the Raddison Hotel attack in Bamako, Mali, all featured short-term hostage taking.</p><p>As tragic as those events were, the less sorrowful news is that the majority of kidnappings end with the victim being released. “Thankfully, most hostages do come back alive,” Briggs says.</p>GP0|#21788f65-8908-49e8-9957-45375db8bd4f;L0|#021788f65-8908-49e8-9957-45375db8bd4f|National Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465