About the Author - Michael McNicholas

Mr. McNicholas is the Managing Director of Phoenix Group in Panama and Costa Rica and Pathfinder Consulting USA, LLC in the USA. Michael has over fourteen years of distinguished and progressive Law Enforcement, Military, and Intelligence experience and, most recently, twenty years as Founder/Co-Founder of several successful professional security services corporations in Latin America and the USA.

A former Non-Commissioned and Commissioned Officer (Presidential Direct Appointment) in the US Army, Mr. McNicholas served for nine years in Airborne Infantry, Military Police, and Military Intelligence units. Mr. McNicholas held a TOP SECRET security clearance in the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where he specialized in counter-narcotics trafficking and international terrorism and served on the Vice President’s Narcotics Interdiction Task Force and as the CIA Liaison to US Coast Guard Intelligence.

Mr. McNicholas designed, implemented, and directed the internationally-acclaimed seaport security program at Manzanillo International Terminal – Panama, the largest container port in Latin America. In 2003, he spearheaded the successful efforts to have Phoenix Management Services Group designated as the first “Recognized Security Organization” (RSO) by the Republic of Panama and the Dominican Republic. On behalf of the government of Panama, Phoenix evaluated and approved/rejected Ship Security Plans for over 2,500 ships in the Panama Registry. In the Dominican Republic, Phoenix conducted Port Facility Security Assessments and wrote the Port Facility Security Plans for two of the primary ports in the country.

Mr. McNicholas is credited with co-pioneering the Maritime Security Team (Anti-piracy/stowaway/drug trafficking/terrorist) concept in commercial cargo shipping and has Maritime Security Teams deployed onboard container and cargo ships in the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. Currently, his personnel provide security onboard over 400 ships per month in 11 ports in Latin America. Tactical intelligence collection and aggressive port and ship security operations by McNicholas’ personnel have yielded the capture of 600+ stowaways and drug couriers, the seizure of over 9,000 kilos of cocaine & heroin, the repelling of armed pirates in combat on two occasions and denial of access in a dozen other attempts, and the successfully mitigation of two terrorist operations targeting US personnel and assets.

Mr. McNicholas and his staff have conducted security surveys and audits and training in every major seaport in Latin America and the Caribbean. From 2002-2004, Mr. McNicholas served as a Special Advisor to the Congress of the Republic of Panama for Counter-Narcotics, Terrorism, and Intelligence issues and briefed two Presidents of Panama on national security issues. In June, 2008, Mr. McNicholas was selected by the Office of the US Secretary of Defense (OSD) as a consultant and team member on several maritime security-related and force protection projects in support of JIATF-SOUTH, SOUTHCOM, and the Department of Defense and shortly after was selected to train the 118 Officers of the US Coast Guard’s International Port Security Assessment Command. In December 2009, Mr. McNicholas was a speaker and panelist at a conference on Somali piracy at the JFK School of Government at Harvard University. In November 2010 and November 2012, Mr. McNicholas was a conference panelist and presenter at NATO’s “Centre of Excellence – Defence Against Terrorism” and the “Multi-National Maritime Security Centre of Excellence” in Turkey. Mr. McNicholas has conducted numerous briefings to senior intelligence officers and analysts at the US Defense Intelligence Agency and DHS agencies and a US Congressional Committee and he has lectured at the US Merchant Marine Academy, Johns Hopkins University, Harvard University, and other academic institutions and has contributed to several feature articles in “Homeland Security Today” and “Cargo Business News”.

Mr. McNicholas is the author of “Maritime Security: An Introduction”, (McNicholas, 2008, Elsevier, Inc./Butterworth-Heinemann) and Chapter 13 (Port Security) of the book entitled “Port Engineering: Planning, Construction, Maintenance, and Security” (Tsinker, Gregory, 2004, Wiley and Sons, Inc.,).