Mexican crime-fighters get microchips to foil kidnaps

Click to follow
The Independent US

Crime fighters have had microchips inserted under their skin so they can be traced if they fall prey to Mexico's growing band of kidnappers. The technology also gives them access to a new crime database.

Crime fighters have had microchips inserted under their skin so they can be traced if they fall prey to Mexico's growing band of kidnappers. The technology also gives them access to a new crime database.

Rafael Macedo, the Attorney General, said the technology, which has been used to help owners locate and identify stray family pets, will give them exclusive and secure access to a national, computerised database for crime investigators that went live on Monday.

Mexican federal authorities are fighting widespread police corruption that regularly compromises high-level criminal investigations. The chips, which are made by the Florida-based VeriChip Corporation, act as mini transponders, opening access to secure areas and files within prosecutors' offices in Mexico City.

The decision to use the technology comes at a time of growing concern over crime in Mex- ico, where 2,000 people were snatched and held to ransom last year, placing the country second only to Colombia in the global kidnapping league. Late last month, thousands of residents marched in silence through Mexico City to demand the government take action.

Mr Macedo told a news conference that the miniature device, which is about the size of a grain of rice, "hurt slightly" when it was inserted beneath the skin of his upper arm. He added: "It's solely for access, for safety and so I can be located at any moment wherever I am."

News reports said that up to 160 functionaries at the Attorney General's office have been implanted with the chips, and that the Mexican government was considering extending the programme to include employees in President Vicente Fox's office, and top members of the country's military.

The futuristic programme was first developed in the United States to help ranchers locate livestock and help families keep track of their pets. Its applications for other areas such as security systems for banking, and for medical records, were soon apparent.

The chip lies dormant beneath the skin until it is activated by an electromagnetic scanner, using a technology known as Radio Frequency Identification, or RFID, a technology which is much in use in the inventory and supply chain business.

The system is also difficult to breach, manufacturers say. While it is technically possible to duplicate the chips, the devices have a special identification number that would foil impostors. Sealed inside a sterile glass envelope before being implanted, they are also fragile, and likely to break if removed.

VeriChip's parent company, Applied Digital Solutions, says the device can be used as a "standalone, tamper-proof personal verification technology," or in tandem with other advanced biometric technologies which are being introduced by law enforcement agencies, such as iris pattern readers and fingerprint scanners.

Comments