Police / Tijuana Jail, Tijuana
I was in TJ with a bunch of my friends one friday night. Like every time we are in TJ, we were drunk as all hell and ran out of money (no doubt from the many stops at the strip clubs). However we hoped in a cab and told him to take us to the nearest ATM which he did. Sure enough we were there for 5 minutes when a bunch of cops showed up and started searching us. My friend Chris who speaks fluent spanish, unlike our broken spanish, told us that they were trying to say we were robbing the ATM. Chris pulled out two $20 US bills and gave them to the cops, who then lets us go, 3 of us who were already in handcuffs. All Im saying is watchout for them. They are all crooked and are only looking for handouts. Sadly, no one can stop them. So beware!
Make sure in Tijuana you have nothing that can be mistaken as drugs. Searches by police are not common but do happen and having as little as a vitamin in your pocket can be assumed as drugs. Prescription drugs must always be in a container with your name. Searches can be conducted at any time in any place and for no reason. If you are with someone who has an illegal substance you will both go to jail. This means anyone that is walking with you on the street including that new found "amigo" who is showing you where to find the "girls".
I am a 37 y.o. attorney. I was visiting San Diego for a convention on June 28, 2005. I drove to Tijuana because I had never been to Mexico and was told it was relatively safe if I stayed in the "good" areas. There are no good areas. 20 minutes after parking my car, I was walking down a street immediately off Revolution Blvd (the main drag) when I was approached by a sleazy guy offering me drugs. I tried to avoid him, but after a few seconds, a police car approached us, frisked us both and found a bag of "cocaine" in the other guy's pocket. They put both of us in the police car and threatened to hold me in jail for 72 hours unless I paid a $500 fine. They literally drove me to an ATM machine for the money. The cops had obviously conspired with the sleazy guy. I have since learned that this is VERY common in Tijuana. I have also since read of instances where female students have been raped by police. Stay away!
Looking back to the days when I first started coming to TJ vice today? The police have cleaned up much, and the days of shakedowns have pretty much come to a halting stop! Although there are many scammers impersonating police waiting in dark alleys and along the route back to the border.
So be careful, and if they are police, they will insist on having you report to the police department. The smart thing would be, don't be stupid! Common things that lead to citations in TJ from tourist!
1. Urinating in Public!
2. Sex in the streets, parking lots, public area
3. Unconscious in the street
4. Fighting other tourist!
5. Not paying bills
We were running low on funds, and found ourselves a decent ATM. As we are getting money out, TWO cop cars pull up and grab us! They throw us on the hood of the car and demand to know why we are taking money out!
"Drugs, Hombre?!" "You buy drugs?!"
"NO Sir!" We were then searched right then and there!!!
Fortunately we were a little tipsy and my friend forgot the conversion rate and took out what he thought was 100 dollars US. In fact, he took out 100 pesos, about 10 bucks!!! The cops didn't even want it and told us to run for the border before they arrested us!
Well... when in Tijuana... RUN!!!
"If you are planning to vacation in Mexico, it is crucial for your safety and the safety of your family that you understand what has happened to some travelers who through no fault of their own and without having knowingly committed a crime are now serving sentences in Mexican jails. "
Tourism to Mexico provides a huge influx of dollars to merchants and businesses in Mexico and so the department of tourism expends great efforts to lure us down there. For the most part the experience of traveling and visiting in Mexico is absolutely wonderful. Unfortunately, not only legitimate business people are anxious to tap into tourist dollars. A few corrupt police have their own way of getting "their share" of this tourist bonanza. Through the legal system that has little oversight these rotten few use their position to shake down Americans traveling by charging them with various infractions and then soliciting "mordida" (bribes) to "fix" the problem.
If you become enmeshed in this scam and are lucky it will only cost you a few hundred dollars and the spoiling of part of your vacation. If you are not so lucky, and have an experience , it might ruin your life and that of your family.
As I know in Tijuana you maybe arrested for:
- Drinking alcohol on any public way
- Disturbing the peace of other persons
- Carring or using firearms
- Possession or comsumption of any kind of drug
Prostitution (although not recommended) is legal unless at age under 18.
It goes without saying: Behave yourself in Tijuana. Most of the stories about corrupt cops may very well not be true, but why would you take the chance to find out? Tijuana cops, for the most part, are used to seeing arrogant and irreverent Americans getting drunk in their streets. It doesn't mean they have to tolerate anything beyond getting drunk.