ASIS chapter forms in one of world's most dangerous cities

A new chapter in Ciudad Juarez will address local members' needs
Monday, May 7, 2012

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico—El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez are two very different cities. Though only separated by a border crossing, El Paso is among the safest cities in the United States, while Juarez is often ranked as one of the most dangerous in the world. It's no surprise then that security professionals working in each city have different issues of concern.

Since 1995 there has been an El Paso-Juarez chapter of ASIS International, which until recently meant security professionals from Juarez had to travel across the border to attend chapter meetings (complications meant meetings were always held on the U.S. side of the border). During the meetings, the security issues discussed were those typical of a chapter located in a relatively safe and secure American city. The problem was the security professionals who worked on the Mexican side of the border had serious security issues that were not being addressed—issues such as kidnapping, exhortation and protecting your supply chain from drug cartels looking for ways to smuggle their goods, according to Deyanira Murga, a security consultant with Grupo IPS Mexico in Juarez and a former member of the El Paso-Juarez chapter.

But no longer. Members from Juarez, led by Murga, have split from the El Paso group to form their own ASIS chapter in Juarez. It counted 36 members in its first two months, Murga told Security Director News.

Not all chapter members are Mexican, Murga said. Many are U.S. citizens who cross the border every day to work in Juarez. The city alone has more than 300 manufacturing plants, owned by such well known U.S. companies as Cisco, Honeywell, and Johnson & Johnson. "Of course they need security," Murga said. "So there are more than 300 security managers and most live on the U.S. side."

Creating a new chapter in Juarez created more opportunities for its members to explore issues relevant to their professional experience, Murga said. In the face of drug-related murders and kidnappings, one major topic is how to keep employees—many of whom live in the United States, but work in Juarez—safe. Many security managers bus their employees across the border, Murga said. "There was a need to found a chapter in Mexico that addressed local needs," she said.

The new chapter's first meeting was held in February at the U.S. Embassy in Juarez, and attracted more than 40 people. It also held an inauguration event, which more than 200 people attended, including city and local law enforcement officials, regional ASIS leadership and chairmen from five other ASIS chapters in Mexico.

Eduard Emde, president of ASIS International, applauded the work of Murga and the Juarez chapter. "Chapters are important to be in sync to what is required by security professionals in a given location and context," Emde told SDN. "In view of the situation in Juarez and the security challenges, I understand the value of coming together under the banner of ASIS International. The growth and initiatives that are underway show that the new chapter is on the right track and has the leadership and support it needs to grow and prosper."

International membership is a key focus of Emde, who is the organization's first president from outside the United States (he's from the Netherlands). "Personally I hope that ASIS will spread to wherever security is prevalent and there are people who share our philosophy to further the security profession and advancing security worldwide. Where there are security activities, bringing local professionals on board will strengthen the security body of knowledge and benefit the Society."