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Be wary of the corrupt police in Puerto Vallarta!!!

Be wary of the corrupt police in Puerto Vallarta!!!

Old Feb 4, 10, 12:12 pm
  #1  
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Be wary of the corrupt police in Puerto Vallarta!!!

“ Puerto Vallarta- Be wary of the police!!!! ”

I am sorry to have to report this story, but this happened to me and a friend during our stay in P.V. last week. The hotels involved (where we stayed) are taking very serious action with the local Tourist Board, the mayor, and other officials. I have also involved the US Consulate through Consular Kelly Trainor in P.V. who knows all about this and is taking action with the police department and is keeping in touch with me about this horrible incident.....


It's long but important to read, and bear in mind that the bottom line is that the police were trying to extort me and my friend from our money (they succeeded with my friend), and could have possibly tried to hide drugs in our clothing or who knows what else. Many local people and tourists confirmed after the fact that they were not really checking us for drugs. Yes, police corruption in Mexico is very real- we experienced it first hand. Think twice about visiting Puerto Vallarta. After my 4th trip to Mexico, I can't think about going back at this point......


(PS- I am leaving out the names of the hotel owners/managers for their privacy.




Here is the letter I sent below......


=======================================


Dear Mr. ___________:




I am writing you at this time from my room at The Hotel Abbey where I am on vacation from January


23 - 31, 2010.




This is a written description of the events that took place on Monday morning, January 25, 2010 around


2:10 am which you requested from me.




I was leaving by foot from Club Manana approximately 2:00 am in the morning on 1/25th with a friend who was also part of my group. He was staying at The Blue Chairs hotel.




He said he knew how to get back to the hotel by foot and that it was fairly close so we decided to walk.




We made a stop at a store called “Oxxo” near the hotel, to pick up some fruit and food. After leaving Oxxo, we weren't exactly sure which direction our hotel was in so we were crossing the street not sure if we needed to make a right or a left.




Within moments a white truck with an open back came by with two gentlemen, my friend thought they were stopping to help give us directions and I asked for directions to The Blue Chairs but I can't recall what they said and because I do not speak Spanish, I didn't grasp what they were trying to tell us. My friend thought they were asking to give us a ride in their truck to the hotel, which I wouldn't have accepted even if that were the case.




Within another minute or two a police car came from the other direction and two or three policemen came out and started to question us and go thru our possessions for no reason apparent to either of us. There were now a total of five policeman on the scene detaining us from going back to our hotels. (The white truck, mentioned in the paragraph above was not marked as a police truck to the best of my recollection but contained two policemen in uniform which was very obvious when they stepped out to join the police officers that exited the car). The police car had it's red and blue lights flaring.




I was asked for identification so I gave the officer my drivers license from my small wallet where I kept my paper money. He looked at it and I motioned for him to give it back to me and then he asked me to put my hands up on the side of the truck where he opened all of the pockets in my cargo shorts and began removing the contents partially with my assistance and also on his own. These shorts have ten pockets in total and I had items in about six of the ten pockets.




I was fearful that I would not see my drivers license again, in addition to my other property and had no idea what may occur next knowing there was absolutely reason to have been stopped and searched to begin with.




The officer took out the case for my glasses, my hotel room key, my camera, my bottle of Visine for my eyes, and then took out my wallet and counted all of the individual bills in front of me which was rather unsettling. I watched every move he made and was terrified with what was transpiring. He had no reason to stop me, let alone check my clothing , open my pockets , and feel my clothing with his hands.




I have no idea what he thought he would find, but there was nothing to find other than what I described above.




My friend was not next to me but was nearby and was receiving a similar interrogation from one of the other officers.




The officers were all were fairly short in height, and were probably in their late 20's to early 30's.




It is important to note that I was totally sober, having no alcohol, only Diet Coke from 4 :00 in the afternoon until late that evening. My speech was not incomprehensible, I was not staggering in my walk, and was totally coherent. There was absolutely no reason to be stopped and harassed in this manner.




My friend and I were detained for about 10 minutes when they finally let us go.




He walked me to the corner of my hotel, I was feeling horrified and humiliated and then he proceeded to go to his hotel, the Blue Chairs.




I told the man on duty at the desk of the Abbey what just occurred and he asked me if I had the police cars numbers or officers names. Needless to say, I had no pen, and couldn't even think straight about what was happening let alone get any identifying information. He made a report in a log book that you keep at the desk.




The next morning, (around 10:30 a.m), I came to see you to report this abusive incident.




I was never told my rights from the police officers, told why I was being searched, or given explanation at all.




I am a U.S. Citizen, and being in a foreign country and not speaking the language, I felt I had better cooperate with the police since I had no clue what may transpire next.




When I got back to my hotel room, I checked all of my possessions and realized everything was intact, including my cash as I was very careful to watch the actions of the police officer go thru all of my bills.




Today, my friend who was staying at the Blue Chairs after checking his wallet was not as lucky.




I have to say that I have lived and traveled around the world for the past 30 years and have NEVER


experienced anything quite like this in my life.




As I told you today, if I have one more incident like this, I am on the next flight back to New York, and I can tell you now (even though it is the beginning of my trip) I can't consider coming back to Puerto Vallarta again the way that I am feeling right now, as this has truly been a traumatic experience and not something I would ever anticipate happening to me on vacation.




I was made to feel like a criminal and it was embarrassing, humiliating , and possibly the worst travel experience I have had in my fifty one years of living.




This is not a good indication for future visitors to your city, nor to any of my family members or friends in New York that I may choose to tell about incident.




I also reported this to the manager of the Blue Chairs hotel.




I realized how upsetting this is and I am hoping you and the Tourist Authority will do right be me in addition to the apology you already gave me. I prefer not to take this story any further to the Mexican Consulate in New York, any of the gay hotel travel organizations, etc., but I truly feel that your hotel in conjunction with the local Tourist Authorities can figure out a way within the next few days to try to turn this situation around for me which requires more than an apology. I am very stressed about this and even though I try not to think about it, it's on my mind here all during my vacation.




It is one thing if I was doing anything wrong, but I was with another tourist in a tourist area, 3 blocks from my hotel and am the least likely candidate that should be stopped and harassed. If it is unsafe (unsafe from the police) to walk 3 blocks away from the hotel at night, I think the guests need to be told this.




Near the same street where this incident occurred there were drunken men nearby, prostitutes, and other unsavory characters that are the people you need to worry about in the vicinity of the tourists.




I look to the police for safety, protection, and guidance, and now this has completely turned my thinking upside down during my stay in Puerto Vallarta and has made this tourist paranoid of the police here. This is very wrong.




I await your prompt response,




AM


New York, NY
Nystateofmind51 is offline  
Old Feb 4, 10, 12:42 pm
  #2  
 
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You're not going to like this, but this whole thing is an overreaction on your part.

Having spent months at a time touring Mexico in our motorhome, we have learned from our experiences in dealing with Mexican local police. It's part of the culture, and is more prevelant in touristy areas where the tourists are easily intimidated.

Instead of ranting and writing letters, you just need to learn from the experience. Mexico is not United States. learn some of the language, learn some of the culture, and don't be out at 2am in the morning!

Kevin
www.travelwithkevinandruth.com
karead7 is offline  
Old Feb 4, 10, 1:08 pm
  #3  
 
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Hmmm, I've already run across this guy's post verbatim in another travel forum.

Here is part of my response:


I read your letter several times. While your situation was frightening I don't see any corruption here other than an allegation that your friend is missing money from his wallet. Otherwise what you describe is a common stop and search by Mexican police which actually ended fairly well all things considered.

What I infer from your letter:

-- You were stopped and searched at 2 a.m. by uniformed police while walking in a neighborhood three blocks from your hotel that apparently has drunks and prostitutes on nearby streets.
-- Your pockets were emptied; this was for the safety of the police as well as your own safety - they have no way of knowing whether or not you had any weapons on you. If you follow the news you know that the Mexican police are under seige right now and, in some cities and towns, are being slaughtered wholesale by drug cartels.
-- Which is one reason that police often use unmarked vehicles these days in Mexico.
-- Nothing was taken from you.
-- You were apparently not physically threatened or harmed.
-- You were apparently not verbally abused.
-- You were not arrested.
-- You were detained for 10 minutes for an identity check and search then your possessions were returned and you were freed to go.
-- There is no constitutional protection against unreasonable searches and seizures in Mexico (as well as many other countries). All the police need is a suspicion to stop and search. Given the time and neighborhood - two gringo tourists walking around a seedy area at 2 a.m., I can see why they might have had a suspicion. The concept of Miranda rights does not exist in Mexico (as well as many other countries).
-- Your letter mentions nothing about attempted extortion.
-- Be thankful you were sober; lots of tourists get busted in Mexico for public drunkeness and open containers. That would have been an expensive experience let alone traumatic.
El Cochinito is offline  
Old Feb 4, 10, 1:11 pm
  #4  
 
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Ho Ho! Good points.

I hope they think twice before trying to travel to interesting parts of the world.
ginteralaska is offline  
Old Feb 5, 10, 12:06 am
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Folks, 90% of your

replys to my thread lack merit. You weren't there, you didn't experience this first hand, you didn't hear what the locals told me about the police or the hotel employees or other tourists about shakedowns that occur on a regular basis to extort money from tourists, you didn't bother to ask me intelligent questions about nightlife in PV (the clubs start gearing up at midnight for the tourists and locals and close at 4 a.m.), you have no idea how many "more interesting" countries I have seen thoroughout the world, so it really is absurd to read most of your comments that anyone with an iota of intelligence would ask more questions than trying to make me responsible for the actions of a corrupt police force!

Why can't you just accept the fact that this type of harrasment and shakedown and extortion (yes they took money from my friend but not from me as I was far too concentrated on every action they were doing with me), and accept the fact that there are countless reports on the internet and off the internet about similar situations that never should have happened. I didn't bother to read about this before leaving, as it never occured to me that this could happen.

American and Canadian Tourists in PV should be revered, especially if we are behaving responsibly. Without tourists, PV will slide to below nothing.......guess you are forgetting that fact. The quickest way to lose them is by the actions they decided to take towards me and my friend last week....enough said, I hope it NEVER happens to any of you, I mean that sincerely.......
Nystateofmind51 is offline  
Old Feb 5, 10, 12:37 am
  #6  
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I lived in Puerto Vallarta for 5 months last year in that same area, and never had any untoward experiences with either local citizens or local police. I walked around that area almost every night in the late evenings and occasionally the wee hours of the morning.

PV is not a perfect place, but the crime there consists mostly of very occasional pickpocketing or petty jewelry theft. The police by and large are good people, although one hears of the very occasional not-so-subtle traffic stop - I guess that can happen anywhere in Mexico. There are ways to act to lessen the chance of paying the mordida.

It would be very frustrating to have been stopped like you were. However, it was a brief incident, and really no extortion even attempted. I suspect because you and your friend could not communicate with the police well, and perhaps started to get in the truck, they may have interpreted it as pretty strange behavior, and frisked you.

Frustrating and a little frightening, yes. An international incident -no. I hope you had a nice time the rest of the week.
Doc Savage is offline  
Old Feb 5, 10, 12:38 am
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I chose to read the Op because my (gay) partner and I are headed there next week. I too think the OP is an over-reaction. As previously stated, there are no Miranda rights, no constitution similar to that which we have in the US, and I fully understand that prior to my trip. I have been advised to stay close to the resort after dark, as this is when most of these situations occur. While not one to be scared or intimidated, I am aware of the situation in Mexico right now, especially concerning the drug cartels and their war on the policia. I may venture out after dark on one or two evenings, but I will use a taxi to arrive and depart my destination for the evening. It's kind of like the few weeks I have spent in downtown Detroit. I call a cab to take me three blocks because getting murdered would just suck. If I want fresh air, I open the window of my secure hotel, in Detroit.

In Mexico, I will follow the same procedures, except I will feel safe by the pool, at the private beach club with private security, and in the other common areas of the resort. Our trips to the city will be mostly during daytime hours, taxied from resort to central market, etc. and back to resort. It costs about $3US for that taxi ride.

I feel bad for the OP, but a little planning and research could have prevented the entire situation. Mexico is NOT the USA. It's a good lesson to learn BEFORE you arrive, rather than on your vacation.
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Old Feb 5, 10, 1:32 am
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Jbart- PV is really a pretty safe place. You will have a great time there. Taxis after about 11pm are probably a good bet, but otherwise I'd urge you to take the local buses to get in touch with the people there, who are very warm and welcoming. Make sure to eat at Cafe de Olla - a favorite restaurant. I'm betting you would also enjoy Cafe Bohemio.

Regarding the crime we all hear about in Mexico - that is almost all concentrated in the border areas and with the narcotrafficantes. PV is, thankfully, a long way from all of that.

The OP really didn't do anything he shouldn't have. I know exactly the corner this happened on (Basilio Badillo and Olas Altas), and I would feel safe walking the 6 blocks or so from the club to his hotel almost any time of the night. At 2am, there is still a very lively bar open 1 block away from the incident, and hotel staff right across the street. The OP just had bad luck, and luckily the whole thing was over in 10 minutes.

Last edited by Doc Savage; Feb 5, 10 at 1:44 am
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Old Feb 5, 10, 10:29 am
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Originally Posted by Nystateofmind51 View Post
replys to my thread lack merit. You weren't there, you didn't experience this first hand, you didn't hear what the locals told me about the police or the hotel employees or other tourists about shakedowns that occur on a regular basis to extort money from tourists, you didn't bother to ask me intelligent questions about nightlife in PV (the clubs start gearing up at midnight for the tourists and locals and close at 4 a.m.), you have no idea how many "more interesting" countries I have seen thoroughout the world, so it really is absurd to read most of your comments that anyone with an iota of intelligence would ask more questions than trying to make me responsible for the actions of a corrupt police force!

Why can't you just accept the fact that this type of harrasment and shakedown and extortion (yes they took money from my friend but not from me as I was far too concentrated on every action they were doing with me), and accept the fact that there are countless reports on the internet and off the internet about similar situations that never should have happened. I didn't bother to read about this before leaving, as it never occured to me that this could happen.

American and Canadian Tourists in PV should be revered, especially if we are behaving responsibly. Without tourists, PV will slide to below nothing.......guess you are forgetting that fact. The quickest way to lose them is by the actions they decided to take towards me and my friend last week....enough said, I hope it NEVER happens to any of you, I mean that sincerely.......
I don't think any of us disagree that this type of thing happens in Mexico. We're all too well aware of it and, in some cases, have had this or worse happen to us or our family/friends. And in other cases we have had excellent interactions with Mexican law enforcement.

In your particular case your mere presence on the street was unfortunately enough "probable cause" for the police to perform a stop, identify and search. Doesn't matter if this was a "tourist zone" or if the clubs were partying at that hour. In fact if I were a corrupt Mexican police officer looking for extra income this would be prime hunting time for inebriated tourists so I could pick up some fine money. Sad state of affairs but such is life in Mexico and Mexicans have to deal with this reality each and every day. I am thankful I live in a country where I am not afraid to call the police when I need help - unfortunately my Mexican in-laws cannot say the same thing.

Here's the deal with Mexican police. In Mexico, the federal, state and local government officials will readily admit that their police are a failure. Over the past few years, mostly starting with President Fox's administration, they have gotten rid of hundreds if not thousands of corrupt and violent officers. Regretfully the purge hasn't done much to make the police force any better because the policies and procedures that are ingrained in the culture are still there.

And incidentally why should Norteamericanos be treated any differently than Mexicans or visitors from other countries? Because of our all-mighty tourist dollar? This type of ego-centric thinking does nothing but reinforce the gringo stereotype in Mexico. Please don't contribute to it.
El Cochinito is offline  
Old Feb 5, 10, 8:14 pm
  #10  
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I agree to almost every thing you just posted in your response......At last someone "gets" what I was writing and identifies that there is a problem there with the police. I if should ever go back, now I know what to expect, but i sure think the hotels and tourist bureaus should warn travelers about this possibility ahead of time and strongly urge tourists to take taxis late at night in Vallarta and other "safe tourist areas.
There are so many postings and articles I have read on the internet that state it is perfectly safe to be on the streets in PV at all hours of the night, we all know now, certainly I do, that that is not necesarily the case.

I learned a very hard lesson but I hope people can learn from this experience IN ADVANCE rather than have to experience it first hand.

Peace folks.....
Nystateofmind51 is offline  
Old Feb 5, 10, 8:18 pm
  #11  
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P.S.- I don't feel special to be treated because I am from North America, the point I was making is that tourists from anywhere in the world that are not breaking the law in Mexico should be treated kindly as if no tourists go there the town of PV will quickly drown and become a wasteland. Look what happened during (what I feel) was the over-reaction from the US when the swine flu outbreak occurred. Mexico suffered greatly which proved that they are dependent on the tourist dollars from all countries.
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Old Feb 5, 10, 8:29 pm
  #12  
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Unfortunately your letter is too long, thick on the emotional, and thin on the incident.... my guess its that it is already forgotten by most of those that you hoped to reach.....
david55 is offline  
Old Feb 7, 10, 10:02 am
  #13  
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Everyone that read it didn't necesarily reply, hundreds did read it....you bet it's thick on the emotional, it's hardly thin on the incident. Once again, another poster that makes passes judgement without asking questions.....

Many police in PV are corrrupt and go after the tourists as bait......deal with the fact.

I'm moving on, if you or anyone care to reply, I will keep responding. Funny the Tourist Authority and US Consulate don't find this to be an amusing matter at all, nor do the hotels where we are staying.........
Nystateofmind51 is offline  
Old Feb 25, 10, 3:23 am
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Same thing happened to me 12 years ago in PV. Walking home from a club late a night and stopped by 3 or 4 cops and told to empty my pockets. I did as told and when they found nothing untword I went home to sleep. They were even kind of joking with me, seemed like a routine thing for the cops to do to me. I certainly didn't write a bunch of letters about the incident.

In different countries, cops can behave in different ways just accept it and travel will be much more fun. By the way the country where I am most terrified of interaction with the police is the US.
travelinmanS is online now  
Old Mar 2, 10, 9:55 pm
  #15  
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Originally Posted by El Cochinito View Post
Hmmm, I've already run across this guy's post verbatim in another travel forum.
Sadly it seems FT is getting more folks like OP signing on with a particular and often very specific axe to grind.
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