Killing With Kindness - How Professional Criminals Operate

Updated: Jul 26

Killing With Kindness

How Professional Criminals Operate

The devil does not come to you with a red face and horns,

he comes to you disguised as everything you ever wanted!

When going over threat assessments with security consultants, executive protection personnel and the like it amazes me that the vast majority of people only consider and plan for dealing with the threats of physical violence or theft. Their operational plans then usually consist of nothing more than supplying as many armed personnel, armored cars and house alarms as the budget will allow. Providing your clients with a serious security program, in my opinion, would mean you have to be pro-active and preventative, not reactive.

To start with, what people forget is that in most countries it is impossible for foreigners to legally carry firearms for self-defense and if locals can carry firearms the laws on use of force are usually very strict; obtaining the weapons and permits can be very difficult and expensive. More importantly while armed guards, trained or untrained, can reassure a client and deter your basic street criminal, for the professional criminals they are just a show that presents little danger.

I tell my clients that I place the threat from blackmail and kidnapping a lot higher than that of assassination. Think about it, if someone is executed what use are they, none… But if someone can be entrapped, blackmailed and manipulated they can provide the criminals with an ongoing source of funds or information etc. If someone is kidnapped, they are a valuable asset which can be ransomed or used as a barging tool to influence the decisions of others.

Now, think like a criminal who is going to kidnap someone who is traveling with armed bodyguards, would you want to get into a shootout with the bodyguards and risk your life, that of the person you want to kidnap and alert the police or military, or would you rather do things more discreetly.

Organized criminals and drug cartels are business people, they are out to make money, so how will killing people make them money. In some of the emerging markets assassination is the unofficial way of solving business disputes as assassins are usually a lot cheaper to hire than lawyers! A person is usually assassinated to be removed them from the equation or to be made an example of; most people should never be faced with the threat of targeted assassination.

“Plata o Plomo” (Silver or Lead) is a common criminal saying in Latin America and it means take my money or take my bullets. This is not just a Latin American phenomenon, in the late 90’s I had dealings with a guy in Eastern Europe who was tactically and self-defense wise very capable. He was working for a state police unit protecting a politician, who had, let’s say, had Mafia issues, as most people with any influence did in those days. The Mafia group’s initial approach to the politician was not directly to him; they first contacted the wives of the bodyguards on his security detail. And, as usual the initial approach was very polite and offering financial rewards for favors… So, who’s more important to you, a client or your family?

In the real world fighting is for amateurs; think about it from the criminal’s point of view, there are many ways to make a protection team operationally ineffective and the use of force is nowhere near the top of this list. To start with, most people’s standard of personal security is extremely low. They’re a bodyguard and have a gun right, people are scared of them right? Well, maybe their reflection in the mirror when they are taking selfies in the bathroom wearing their best suit and tie…

If you can’t protect yourself how can you protect others? Professional personal security is 24/7, not just for the length of a detail or shift. From a commercial point of view you certainly need to promote yourself but that does not mean letting everyone at Starbucks hear your work related conversations or look over your shoulder to see who you’re chatting with online. I should not have to mention to you the need to be careful what you post on social media, but…

In most places in the world drugs are freely available, so why should a criminal need to get into a shootout when they can just drug their target’s security team. It's common for people to get drugged in bars and clubs for robbery or rape but many professionals in the security business don't consider this threat to security details. What would it take for a server at your regular coffee shop to spike your morning latte with Ketamine, GHB or Rohypnol? I am sure if your threat comes from semiprofessional criminals they will be assessing your routine, and I am sure the barista who is making your morning coffee with a smile will happily take the criminals silver rather than lead. A basic Gypsy robbery tactic in Europe is to get their small children to go out and sell glasses of tea or soft drinks to tourists. Would you expect a little girl to give you a spiked drink?

Always know where your food and drink comes from, always be suspicious of gifts and never leave food or beverages unattended in public or with strangers, especially attractive women you have just met. The common date rape drugs like Rohypnol, GHB, Ketamine are tasteless and odorless, take approximately 15 to 30 minutes to take effect and usually last three to six hours, depending on dosage. These drugs make the victims weak, unconscious and unable to remember what happened. Prescription drugs such as Klonopin and Xanax have similar effects especially in large doses.

A drug that is regularly used in crimes in Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador is Burandanga or Scopolamine which is extracted from the Borrachero tree. Scopolamine has numerous legitimate medical uses but when used by rapists and criminals it renders their victims into a compliant zombie-like state of which they remember nothing. Victims have the outward appearance of being okay but are in fact in a trance and are totally unaware of what they’re doing. Victims of Scopolamine overdoes are common in Colombian hospitals as are the deaths of those who received a large dose or had a low tolerance. This drug is more common that people think. I have come across similar ones in Haiti and West Africa; once administered through liquid or powder form the victim is completely compliant and helpless.

In the late 90’s in Eastern Europe I knew of one very low profile government agency that suffered several fatalities from targeted chemical attacks. The initial killings were not recognized as targeted assassination as the victims had died in car crashes. What sparked concern was that during the autopsies the victims who were otherwise fit and in good physical conditions had fluid in their lungs. They had been killed by an anesthesia drug placed in the ventilation intake of their cars, so when they were running the car’s heating system the anesthesia was dispersed inside the car and they died from a chemical overdose combined and covered with a car crash.

In 2002 Russian special forces used an anesthesia drug to end the hostage crisis at Nord-Ost Theater in Moscow. The drug, Kolokol-1 was pumped into the theater through the ventilation/heating system and knocked out everyone inside, all the terrorists were killed but unfortunately so were 130 of the hostages, reportedly due to adverse effects from the drug. A much lower tech version of this would be to spray pepper or OC spray into a building’s ventilation intake, the gas would disperse throughout the building and affect anyone inside if sufficient quantities were used.

One of the best and most effective weapons organized criminals have and use is sex. I reme