Brave New World — In Mexico

by Jeanine Kitchel

I recently read that middle class families in Mexico are having tiny transmitters placed under their skin so that satellites can locate them if they’re kidnapped.  According to a report, sales of the device have jumped 13 per cent this year after kidnappings rose 40 per cent from 2004 to 2007 in Mexico.  True statistics on kidnapping are kept underwraps.  Some reports say there were four times more than the 750 cases reported last year.

A transmitter in the chip sends radio signals to a device carried by the client, with a global positioning system in it, says the manufacturer, Xega, from Queretaro.  A satellite can then pickup the kidnap victim’s location.

The crystal encased chip is the size of a piece of rice and is injected under the person’s skin with a syringe. The technology came about when one of the owners of Xega, originally a global positioning system used for tracking down stolen cars, was kidnapped in broad daylight in 2001. Frustrated by his powerlessness, he then adapted the technology to track stolen people.  The pricetag isn’t cheap — upwards of $3700 USD.

In July 2004, 100 employees of the Mexico Attorney General’s Office received surgical implants containing tracking devices that control access to high level security locations.  By scanning their arm where the implant was embedded, they were allowed access to secure sites. A report at that time by Martin Reynolds, Garnter Research, stated the ability for a micro chip to also locate a kidnap victim could be overblown.

So far we’re not at the kidnapping stage in Quintana Roo.  Probably why we’ve been seeing so many Mexico City plates here in the land of the Riviera Maya. With the exception of the occasional hurricane, life is good. Wonder if Huxley would agree.