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Demand For Armored Vehicles Increasing In El Paso

Residents, Companies Looking For Protection In Midst Of Deadly Drug War

EL PASO, Texas - As Juarez grows increasingly violent, more El Pasoans are getting their cars equipped with armor.

"There's definitely an increase here in El Paso," said Mark Burton, CEO of International Armoring Corporation. He talked to ABC-7 while in El Paso delivering an armored SUV to an El Paso client.

Along the border, Burton said demand for his armoring services is up 300 percent. Volume is low - about six vehicles a month for the border region. But that's not surprising, considering the armoring process alone costs about $70,000. It takes 30-45 days.

That's because every inch of each vehicle - from doors to trim - are protected. The windows are two inches thick and can defend against an AK-47 assault rifle.

Burton said 90 percent of his clients are American corporations with locations in Mexico who want protected vehicles for their employees.

He said he does background checks on prospective clients to make sure he isn't aiding drug cartels or people involved in illegal activity.

And his vehicles won't deflect sustained gunfire in the same spot; they'll simply buy time.

"We want to be able provide them the time they need to be able to escape that dangerous situation," he said. "These aren't tanks, but they're completely protected."

In the company's 18-year history, they've armored 6,000 rides. 250 have come under attack in Mexico.

A Customs and Border Protection spokesman said customs agents are trained to search armored vehicles at checkpoints, but it takes longer than searching other, non-armored cars.


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