Mr. Matthew Swanson from Oshkosh Wisconsin (according to his Facebook page), had a close encounter of the fourth kind with corrupt police officers in the Yucatán Península, and he sent The Yucatan Times a screenshot of his Facebook page, check out Matthew‘s story, let’s see what you think about the outcome…
So…in case anyone was wondering, the stories of Mexican cops pulling over tourists (who decide to risk it and rent a car) and asking for bribes is 100% true. Apparently my pasty, pale skin doesn’t blend in very well.
We got pulled over on the way to the ruins this morning and told I’m speeding. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t speeding, and the officer tells me he’s giving me a ticket for $3000 pesos, which seems odd since that’s about 23% of the average monthly income of locals. I tell him I’ll go to the police station and pay it. After a little bit of back and forth, he says it will be a warning and sends me on my way. I feel like he was trying to shake me down, but try to dismiss it as me letting the reading I’ve done color my opinion.
For the rest of the day, I’m more careful than I’ve ever been to not speed or break any traffic laws.
Same place on the way back, and I get pulled over. Again. The new officer tells me I’m speeding, and I I’m certain I wasn’t. I tell him so. He goes and “checks my record” (which is funny…since he doesn’t have access to Wisconsin’s DMV records via the tailgate of his truck, which is where he completed this “check”), comes back and tells me to get out of the car. After talking and telling me he’s giving me a ticket for some sort of illegal lane change (instead of the original speeding claim), he tells me I can either pay him or at the police station. I let him know I know it’s illegal for me to pay him and that I’ll pay it at the station, or he and I can go down to the police station together and I’ll pay the captain directly. He then offers to give me a 50% discount if I pay him (because that’s normal). I tell him I’m not comfortable with that, and I’ll just pay at the station. He tries to haggle a couple other times; I insist it will only be paid at the station and ask if there is anything else or if I can go. He tells me I can go, and within two steps back to my car he barks back at me to take my license and give him my “ticket” and tells me I’m free to go.
I tried to dismiss the first incident. The second one convinced me that there’s a systemic problem and apparently it’s OK to shake down tourists. I wonder how many people pay them because they’re scared or intimidated or they have visions of being carted away to Mexican jails rather than calling BS?