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Beyond the Border with Ed Calderon

Most people out there think the world is a beautiful place, and when they read articles in the newspaper about evil crimes like this, most people just brush it off, thinking it’s fiction. But it really does happen, both domestically and abroad. The boogeyman does exist. So, how do we mentally and physically prepare for scenarios like this? How can we prepare today for tomorrow? The answer is simple. Meet Ed Calderon, the person who could help you prepare for a journey that you will hopefully never take. 

(Photo by Ed Calderon)

Counter Custody by Ed Calderon

You’re with your wife, and family vacationing in Cancun and decided to visit the outskirts of the resort. Next thing you know, you get attacked by a group of men, and your kids are thrown in a van.

Oh, wait… is this scenario a little too scary for you? Let’s switch it up… same family, same scenario, except you were just thrown in the van. You have just been kidnapped and tied up, and you are currently being tortured in austere conditions and being held for ransom. Between you and your wife, you average about $185K a year, but you put off the vibe you make more. You’re asking yourself at this point, “Why me?” How could this happen to me… as your finger is being cut off and sent back to your wife, showing that the kidnappers mean business?

Escape and Evasion Courses

I first heard about Ed Calderon’s work 13 years ago. I was traveling the U.S. training with different agencies and taking different seminars. There was chatter about someone who would put you in situations that most training facilities wouldn’t dare (going through the full experience of being captured, then mentally and physically challenged). Not only were there classes but there was also a blog, and it was all known as “Ed’s Manifesto.” I remember thinking I had to meet this mystery man behind the blog. 

When I finally met Ed in person, I knew he was the necessary piece to the puzzle to enhance my combative training. I quickly learned that he really is a squared-away individual and deserves all of the hype. Years later, I was fortunate enough to learn more details about his life experiences and training. Ed has spent more than 10 years working in the fields of counter-narcotics, organized crime investigation, and public safety in the northern border region of Mexico. He coordinated and worked on executive protection details for high-level government officials and visiting dignitaries. Ed has consulted with members of military and law enforcement agencies throughout the world. 

When Ed graduated from the academy, he discovered that this brand new agency was put together by the governor to cover the Baja region.
(Photo by After Action Photography)

The Right Person for the Job

Ed was not born into money, so he worked hard for everything he has. Since Ed was a child, he wanted to be a doctor, but his family did not have the money to allow him to do so. After his mandatory Mexican army service, Ed hoped to go to medical school. However, Ed’s dreams got derailed because of the military’s reallocation of funds after September 11, 2001. Once his military mandatory time was up, he chose to start looking for jobs that would help him pay his own way through medical school. While going through classified ads back in 2003, he stumbled upon an ad for a law enforcement agency that was looking for a fluent “Spanish to English translator” to work with other agencies from the United States. 

When Ed showed up to hand in his application, the interview process started immediately. Ed noticed a lot of other applicants, some of whom looked like they belonged there and others who gave off the vibe that they didn’t. His body was completely photographed to document any scars, tattoos, and birthmarks. Ed noticed there were people with burn marks all over their bodies to try to cover up gang tattoos. (Those individuals were weeded out immediately). After being aggressively interviewed, he proved to the job reviewers that he was the perfect candidate for the job. 

He was outfitted with the finest pre-owned, second-chance body armor (for those that don’t know, this wouldn’t protect him against a 9mm round), a Beretta 92FS and a Glock 17.
(Photo by After Action Photography)

Skill Sharpening

After being chosen, Ed attended a vigorous three-month academy. This was not an academy where you get to come and go as you please. He had to live there. The academy was a repurposed prison that was abandoned due to unsafe living conditions for its prisoners. There was black mold, leaky roofs, no heat, and no air conditioning. The academy treated Ed worse than prisoners are treated. This was their way of separating the men from the boys. The food was rancid, and conditions were gross, but he did receive some of the best paramilitary training the Mexican government could buy. He received hands-on combat training for both armed and unarmed, along with some intense interrogation techniques that would break the average strong-willed man. While Ed was in the academy, he was peer-nominated for his first true leadership role of Team leader. 

When Ed graduated from the academy, he discovered a new agency to cover the Baja region. This gave him executive powers similar to the United States Marshal Service. Ed was handed a badge and a folded piece of paper that would authorize him to carry a firearm. He was outfitted with the finest pre-owned, second-chance body armor, a Beretta 92FS, and a Glock 17. All of the gear had to be purchased out of pocket but one big perk was that he was able to be in plain clothes.

Law Enforcement

Immediately, Ed started working with agencies that can’t be named, for obvious reasons, to go on extremely dangerous missions. These missions could have been anything from kidnap recovery, confiscating drugs, arresting high-level cartel members, and many other things. The years of working for this agency opened up Ed’s eyes and mind to both stuff he wanted to learn about and things he never wanted to see. He quickly learned just how evil this world really is, all while covering one region in a country. After years of LE service and doing God’s work, Ed was broadsided to find out this agency was being disbanded. I’m sure you’re asking yourself, “Why would an agency like this be disbanded when it is assisting other agencies in capturing bad guys, solving high-level crimes, and taking drugs off the street?” Why don’t we just leave the answer as “politics.” 

Ed immediately started getting his name out there through his connections to offer courses that would focus on counter custody and navigating non-permissive environments.
(Photo by Ed Calderon)

A New Beginning

Once Ed found himself without a job, he reached out to his friend Tracker Dan. He then moved to the United States so he could get his green card. Kelly and Dan didn’t hesitate to take Ed and his wife in, where they allowed them to live for years as part of their family.

Ed proudly credits him for teaching him how to be an American. Ed immediately started getting his name out there through his connections to offer counter-custody courses. A company called Tad Gear was the first company to host Ed’s classes. He was an instant hit and quickly became well-known. Ed continues to put in the work as a skilled teacher. He offers versatile subject matters while having the innate ability to break down what he is teaching so it is easily understood. 

Ed continues to seek training from the best in the field and craft. One day, he could be training with a tier-one LE agency, and the next, a regular Joe. One of the most impressive things about Ed is his ability to evolve. He recently studied with body modifiers to learn how to hide shivs within the skin to open handcuffs. All of this allowed Ed to score countless contracts to teach his classes to LEO agencies and military units around the world.

Bright Future In A Dark World

Today, Ed is still well known for his seminars across the U.S. They offer a wide variety of lesson plans that can be tailored to anyone, whether they are civilian, law enforcement, or military. His seminars cover a wide array of topics, including awareness, body language, improvised weapons, and more. He has been featured on many different podcasts and has obtained a cult following. Ed is one of the few people who have been a guest on the Joe Rogan podcast… twice as a subject matter expert in world crime. Ed’s classes are extremely informative and have something for everyone to take away from.

For more information on Ed Calderon and his teachings, I highly recommend you visit his website, You’ll be glad you did… especially if you ever find yourself duct-taped up in a stranger’s box truck headed for who knows where.

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