A survey on police bribery in Mexico

Picture 7Have you ever been stopped by an officer in Mexico on what you suspected were trumped-up charges meant to solicit a bribe?

Have you flagrantly violated the laws in Mexico because you figure you can resolve these problems with a stack of bills?

I invite readers to fill out a short survey on people’s attitudes towards police bribery in Mexico. Click Here to take survey. When I get enough responses, I’ll write a blog item about the results. In the meantime, I’ll share my story: When I worked in Tijuana, I was stopped by police officers several times on what I suspected were fishing expeditions. The conversations would end predictably: The officer/s would ask me what I was doing in Tijuana and I would explain that I was a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune. At that point, I would be treated like an old friend.

One of the frustrations about police bribery in Mexico is that I always suspected that the vast majority of cases go unreported by tourists who don’t have press credentials and who don’t know how to get out of this kind of a sticky situation. It doesn’t even rise to the standard of regular news coverage, though here is an overview story I wrote about the issue in 2007 that was pegged to some efforts being made by Tijuana to address the problem. I’m curious what other people think. Your identity will remain anonymous, but feel free to include your contact information if you want to chat more.

Another link in case you missed it earlier: Click Here to take survey

UPDATE 11/03/09: I’ve kept this survey open and now have 107 responses. Keep them coming! I will try to do a post on the results next week.

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10 responses to “A survey on police bribery in Mexico

  1. I am 2 for 2. I have never gotten out of a ticket without a bribe in Baja. I remember the first time I got pulled over I did not have any cash on me and the cop was like “Well there’s an ATM over there…” Bastards made me do the walk of shame, and then upon returning to the vehicle he tells me, “now be discrete, handing over the cash.” I counted out 20 one dollar bills standing on the side of road.

    Did you have to show your reports ID or did he take our word? Next time, I think I am going to say that I work for the LA Times and I’m in town to interview Hugo Torres about a story about corrupt cops.


  2. Wow, that’s pretty bold w/the officer forcing you to take it from the ATM. Normally, I had my ID ready to back up my statement. Now I feel more vulnerable since I don’t have that press pass but so far I have been ok.

  3. Pulled over once in 20 years, officer was professional and actually wrote me a ticket.

  4. i didn’t met with this problem in mexico.
    i’ve been one time 5 years ago.
    i love this country.

  5. Glad to hear that you didn’t have any problems when you visited Mexico!

  6. I have been nailed twice by Tijuana motorcycle police. The first was on the hill leaving town right before the first toll booth. He said I was speeding but mexican cars were going faster. He liked my Calif plates. Wanted $80 usd, talked him down to $50. Not a great way to start a trip.
    The second time i was trying to turn where I wasn’t supposed to. Gave him all my money ($40) but kept a twenty saying that I wanted to get a black velvet Elvis painting at la frontera. He seemed to think that was a good reason. Both spoke excellent english.
    Both times I felt ripped off and swore about what a crappy place TJ is. But…i still go there. I love mexico

  7. Hi, Marty. I’m so sorry to hear about that. I have to admit, however, that I found the line about getting a black velvet elvis pretty funny in the sense that the cops seemed to think that was a good reason to let you keep some of your money.

  8. Never pay a traffic fine to the policeman who writes you up. If you do so, you will be paying a bribe or an extortion rather than a fine.

    In Tijuana and Rosarito, traffic fines can be paid by mail to a post office box in San Diego.

    If you wish to contest a traffic fine anywhere in Mexico, you have the right to be presented to a judge immediately. Just say “Vámonos a la comandancia.” But you should also be aware that 60 kph is not the same as 60 mph because many gringos get speeding tickets for good reason.

    If you have access to the Mexican telephone system (cell phones, pay phones, private phones), dialing “078” in Baja California at any hour of the day or night will get you someone who has been trained to help tourists and who speaks English. The call is similar to “911” in the U.S.

    If you have been a victim of police extortion and you have not had access to 078, you can still report the crime. In Tijuana, such issues are handled by the Sindicatura (Internal Affairs). They maintain a kiosk at the eastern entrance to City Hall and can also be reached by Internet at http://www.sindicatura.gob.mx/complaints/index.asp

    Police corruption was more of an issue during the previous mayoral administration. After Jorge Hank left power, one fifth of his police force has been dismissed for having abused their authority. If you encounter police corruption nowadays, challenge the policeman and he should back down for fear of his job. But also make a note of his badge number and report him, please.

  9. Hey! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!

  10. I tried to take the online survey re: being hassled in tj by police, but it is no longer valid. if you have a current one, or website or other oarticles i’m very interested in this topic. please feel free to email any info/articles you have.

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