Category Archives: International

Ex World Champion Boxer Killed in Botched Kidnapping

Kidnapping is a preferred method of criminal activity in many Central and South American Countries.  The targeting of high net worth individuals is particularly prevalent by the criminal underworld.

CARACAS, Venezuela — Former world champion boxer Antonio Cermeno was kidnapped and killed in his native Venezuela, police said Tuesday.

Cermeno, a WBA super bantamweight and featherweight champion in the 1990s, was found shot to death Tuesday on a road in the central state of Miranda, local police chief Eliseo Guzman said.

Guzman said Cermeno and other relatives were kidnapped Monday night near the La Urbina neighborhood in east Caracas. The relatives escaped when the kidnappers stopped to refuel the car, but the former boxer remained captive, Guzman said.

Cermeno, 44, retired in 2006 with a 45-7 record.

His slaying comes on the heels of the killing of popular soap-opera actress and former Miss Venezuela Monica Spear in early January. Robbers killed the 29-year-old and her former husband, Thomas Henry Berry, 39, on an isolated stretch of highway while the couple was returning to the capital by car with their 5-year-old daughter.

The high-profile slayings highlight spiraling violent crime in Venezuela, which is one of the spurs to opposition protests that have rocked the South American country in recent weeks. The United Nations ranks Venezuela’s homicide rate as the fifth highest in the world.

Click HERE for additional details on the story

Rest In Peace Nelson Mandela

 

While on an assignment, I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Mandela in person several years ago. At the time I was in full work mode, so there was nothing but the briefest of greetings, however, he still extended me the courtesy of a firm handshake. Madiba was of those individuals who will be remembered in helping define this century.

Honor.  Determination.  Fortitude.  Perseverance.  Those are certainly qualities that the Executive Protection community can emulate.

 

May he rest in peace as he has certainly earned it.

10 Tips for Protectors Involved in Touring

 

  1. Learn the value of a durable suitcase and a portable steamer.  If you are on the road for any duration of time, your suitcase is going to take a beating.    Additionally, unless you are a seasoned packer, what’s inside the case may not be “ready to wear,” when it’s time to hit the ground running.  Of course if you’re lucky, the nicer hotels may do your ironing for you at no charge, but it pays to be prepared for the worst.
  2. Make sure you take advantage of all the frequent flier programs.   An insider secret is that while outside parties usually make the arrangements and pay for the bodyguards travel, in most cases the actual traveler gets the mileage credit.  A worldwide tour (provided your not flying private) could easily mean a few free roundtrip tickets when you finally do get some downtime.
  3. Be careful what you eat, especially in a foreign country.  The exotic dishes shown on the food channel might look tempting but they may come at a cost, if you don’t have a ironclad stomach.  Running back and fourth to the airplane lavatory is not fun, and let’s not even discuss tour bus facilities (let’s just say, that’s a good way to loose allies quickly).
  4. Always pack your own luggage and know what you’re carrying!  TSA security does not care who you work for, you hold it, you own it.   Also, for those of us in the profession who carry firearms, we also know the additional hassle of trying to check one in prior to boarding, so give yourself some extra time.
  5. Remember: Reporters are not your friends. Say something and you might be (mis)quoted, so if you find yourself in a situation where you are corned by you, it’s best to point them to the client’s publicist or someone in else in management.  With that said, contrary to popular belief, the worst person to be “heavy handed” to is the media. You might not get mentioned by name, but overly aggressive actions could cast your client (and therefore your potential future earnings) in a bad light.
  6. Avoid Groupies.  Bad things can happen to good people.  Meet an unscrupulous person who’s intent on scoring a payday by putting you or your client in a compromising position, and you could end up in the papers, or worst, the back of a police car.
  7. Find the hotel gym, not the hotel bar.  In theory, Close Protection Agents are on call, so you don’t want to be pounding a few down just before something happens.  Tour life means lots of travel, more convenient access to fast (junk) food, and long day and nights.  Staying fit is a vital part of the equation if you are going to do it for the long haul.
  8. Don’t get caught “flat footed.”  There is a routine to tour life, I mean when you think about it; it’s the same show, over and over.  After the 100th viewing you probably can even do the dancer’s chorography yourself. However, with that comes the creeping monster of complacency, and before you know it, instead of being in the wings with a close eye on your client, you are at catering getting a second helping of that delicious apple pie.  And while nothing has happened until now, that’s just the time when Murphy’s Law strikes.  Stay in the moment
  9. If you are assigned to protect the client, you cannot delegate YOUR responsibility.   Sure there may be event security, law enforcement, ushers and production staff, but at the end of the day, if your role is to ensure the safety and security of the client, you are responsible for 360 degrees of total coverage, everyone else might make your life easier, but the buck stops with you.
  10. Remember why you are there. This is an important one.  Sure a tour means seeing new and exciting people, places and things, but the role of the Executive Protection Agent is to be the first line of defense in protecting the client from harm. Often in a tour setting you might find yourself playing several different positions just to make it all run smoother, but no one in our profession wants to be known as the person who was on the scene when something goes bad and couldn’t fix the problem, or worse yet, the Protector who was distracted to notice.

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Rock Band Victims of Virtual Kidnapping in Mexico

 

The members of the Basque indie-rock band Delorean are safe after having been victims of what police are calling a “virtual kidnapping” in Mexico City, reports El País. The quartet, which was in town to play the local edition of Montreal’s MUTEK festival, was last seen Sunday at the Four Points hotel, in the city’s Colonia Roma district. Police sources say that an unidentified caller phoned the band’s family members in Guipuzkoa, Spain, claiming that the band was being held captive and demanding a ransom of 5 million pesos (roughly $380,000), setting off an international effort to find the musicians.

The kidnappers phoned the musicians and, after passing themselves off as Mexican police, indicated that they were at risk in their current establishment and that they should move to another hotel. Once they were in the second hotel, the kidnappers confiscated their cell phones. Later, a member of the gang contacted a family member of one of the musicians and demanded a ransom payment for their liberation. An updated version of El País‘ story, however, said that the caller claimed to be a member of Mexico’s notorious Zetas gang who advised Delorean member Guillermo Astrain that there would be a shootout at the hotel, and they should move to another hotel for their safety.

Click HERE for the full story.

For more background on the rise of “virtual kidnapping” in Mexico check out the excellent article in the New York Times, HERE.

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Secret Service Presidential Motorcade in Sweden

While it might look like a potential traffic jam waiting to happen, every vehicle in the motorcade serves a distinct purpose.  The amount of resources dedicated to moving the President of the United States from place to place by the Secret Service is staggering.  With that said, the security motorcade is not unique to just diplomatic arenas.  You will find scaled down versions in almost every other area of Executive Protection.  The unfortunate reality is that the majority of attacks occur in and around the vehicle so the rings of protection have to extend beyond just arms length.

The Return

 

Apologies for the lack of updates on Bodyguard Blog.  The one thing we have always stressed is that the blog is an insiders look into the Executive Protection business.  That encompases staying actively involved in the craft, not talking about something you did 20 years ago (or never).  For the last few months I have have been on assignments that have taking me  literally around the world and back. I’ll try and get some posts up in the upcoming weeks that speak to some of the experiences (with respect to confidentially and OPSEC of course).

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Real World vs. Textbook

 

 

 

 

ESI, ICON and Strengthening Relationships

 

Just completed two days as an instructor at Executive Security International (ESI) as part of their highly regarded residential Executive Protection Program.  While there , I covered two topics that i’m intimately familiar with —Celebrity Protection and later International Travel for High Net-Worth Individuals.  ESI is considered to be the Harvard of the bodyguard industry, so i’m proud to have an ongoing relationship with them as an instructor.  With so many divisions in the industry, the ability  to put cooperation before completion to work towards common goals is a great thing.

ICON CEO Elijah Shaw & ESI President Bob Duggan
ICON CEO Elijah Shaw & ESI President Bob Duggan

ICON Social Summit Review and Recap

The ICON Executive Protection Academy kicked 2013 off with a bang.  In January we ran our well established Celebrity & VIP Protection Course immediately followed by our Advanced Executive Protection Course for those who were looking for continuing training in the close protection industry.  Sandwiched in between the two courses was our first Annual ICON Social Summit.  The Summit itself made waves, having originally been conceived to bring ICON Alumni of the previous years together to discuss best practices and network.  We tried to keep word of the Summit relatively under wraps (Prior to the event, I didn’t even do a Blog posting on it) however as word spread, we started getting inundated with request from industry peers who were also interested in attending.

One of the big draws to what came to be a by invitation only, sold out event, was our impressive lineup of guest speakers which had the distinction of having subject matter experts as speakers who were actually ACTIVE in the Protection field on a full-time basis.  (As my friend Tony Scotti would say, “What a concept”?)  The speaker roster included:

Mark JamesInternationally published author and CEO of Panther Protective Services

Eric Konohia:  CEO of BPI Security

Benjamin Alozie:  ICON Director of International Operations  

Raffaele Di Giorgio:  CEO of Global Options and Solutions 

Raffaele also had the distinction of traveling the furthest to be at the Summit, scheduling his time back in the US from an assignment in the Middle East around it.  Further enhancing the flavor and overall spirit of unity was the welcome presence of graduates of several other industry schools which included Executive Security International (ESI) the Executive Protection Institute (EPI) and the International Academy of Executive Protection Agents (IAEPA) as well as many members of the North American Bodyguard Association (NABA).

 

With a sold out attendee list and a full day of seminars (which included a few surprises) the Summit switched gears slightly to move to the “social” phase which was a chance for new Protectors to meet, old associates to get reacquainted, and those that knew each other solely from social media to finally put a real face to the virtual one.   The laughs were many, the exchange of contact information was frequent, and the amount of people that used the access of liquor at the nearby bar to damage their credibility was nil.

 

Immediately following the Summit, I launched into Day 1 of the ICON Advanced Executive Protection Course, so the feedback on what everyone thought was sporadic for me; however upon its conclusion I was able to truly get a sense that those in attendance appreciated the presentations and flow of the day and were looking forward to more in the future.  In fact, in addition to Summit presenter Eric Konohia’s Blog article on his experiences,  one able bodied Protector in attendance even took the time to do a video review.  Find it HERE.

With all of this said, the Summit Group is well into planning the 2nd Annual ICON Social Summit, and hope to continue to find new and creative ways to unite and strengthen the Executive Protection industry.  (Not counting the virtual fistfight almost broke out on the North American Bodyguard Association Facebook Page about where to hold the next Summit, but I digress…)

It truly warmed my heart to interact with a room full of like minded individuals who took the time out of their schedules to attend, and it is my hope that the best practices discussed and networking opportunities presented help make life easier for the men and women that risk their well being to engage in the business of Executive Protection.

Elijah Shaw~ ICON

To see a photo gallery of the 1st Annual ICON Social Summit Click HERE.

To get more information about the 2nd Annual ICON Social Summit Click HERE.

 

Analyze This – Security Risk of Drunken Airline Passengers

By Benjamin Alozie 

On the 5th of January 2013 on a New York bound flight from Iceland a DRUNKEN male passenger was DUCT-TAPED after a BOOZE-FUELLED MELTDOWN.

When you look at the photo of the duct-taped boozed passenger ts quick to see only the humor in that photo, but do we see the dangers as well?

All protection professionals and even private individuals that are security conscious owe it to themselves to look and see all incidents differently.

Let’s use this incident to launch our new feature, “LET’S ANALYZE THIS” by asking you to carefully study the photo below link it to the incident and comment on the possible risks and threats you see and how you’ll better prepare to mitigate it when traveling commercial alone or with your client.

“LET’S ANALYZE THIS”

Czech Bodyguards Redefine the term “Epic Fail”

“You really did not manage  this well”   ~  Those are the words Czech President Vaclav Klaus is reported to have said to a member of his Protection Team shortly after being shot by an attacker wielding a non-lethal but realistic looking air-soft  pistol while his bodyguard looked confused and unsure of what to do next.

The attacker wearing military camouflage moved in on President Klaus during a televised outdoors ceremony to reopen a bridge.   The man not only was able to draw the weapon and fire several shots hitting the President, but also had enough time to not only walk away from the incident but give a nearby interview before being detained by police.

Speechless.

This one will be an industry case study for a long time to come.

 

Click HERE for video