Following the circulation of a video where Tulum police officers appear to be extorting tourists, local authorities in the popular Riviera Maya destination have been quick to respond, assuring measures will be taken to fight corruption and protect visitors from abuse.
Although Mexico is a relatively safe destination, and currently one of the most visited countries in the world, American tourists have been advised to exercise greater caution when visiting due to reports of violence in tourist areas and renewed gang activity. Now, extortion may be yet item to add to a growing list of concerns for those visiting.
Tulum Reacting Promptly With “Zero Tolerance” When It Comes To Corruption
As reported by La Jornada Maya, some agents of the Municipal Police were caught on video extorting money from a French national, supposedly due to excessive speeding. The foreigner(s) had to surrender their driver’s license and were then escorted by the corrupt officers to the nearest ATM, being forced to withdraw cash in order to retrieve their document.
As seen in the video, taken by a local inhabitant in north Tulum, the patrol 92106 officers refused to hand back the victim’s driver’s license unless he gave them money. While we are not able to confirm speeding limits were indeed broken here, it is certainly not unusual for police officers to issue fines in these situations, or a driver to have their license suspended in extreme situations.
On the other hand, requesting money from offenders is a well-known corrupt practice, and one that security officials in Tulum will not tolerate. According to Óscar Alberto Aparicio Avendaño, head of the General Directorate of Public Security and Municipal Traffic, both officers involved have already been identified and called to testify.
In fact, the incident may not have happened far from a local police station, with the Chedraui supermarket, where the video was taken, located just a few blocks away. Acknowledging the concerns of those traveling to Tulum during this uncertain time, Avendaño assured that there will be “zero tolerance” when it comes to extortion and the protection of locals and visitors alike.
In a recent statement, the ‘presidente municipal‘ (or municipal president, as defined in Mexico) Marciano Dzul Caamal has also been clear in asserting that any official carrying out illegal activities, or resorting to corruption will be punished accordingly.
When it comes to higher crime levels in the region, Mexico is already rushing to ensure visitors feel safe, going as far as sending the National Guard to the Riviera. Unfortunately, it might be too late now to save Tulum’s reputation as a quaint and carefree beach town.
How Does This Affect Americans Visiting Tulum Or Other Riviera Maya Hotspots?
The U.S. Consulate General in Merida has already urged American citizens to be more vigilant when visiting the neighboring Quintana Roo state, of which Tulum is a part of, although there is no mention of police corruption as a particular threat to the well-being of tourists.
Recently, Mexico has been taking its new status as a tourism behemoth with a pinch of salt, especially after the U.S. issued a warning for its citizens discouraging trips there. While tourists generally feel safe visiting, and crime levels are not overly pronounced compared to other Caribbean hotspots, violence seems to be spilling over into tourist centers.
Several shootings in the area surrounding Tulum, including Playa del Carmen and Cancun, have led visitors to reconsider travel to the Mexican Caribbean in recent weeks. Among those events causing the setback is the Xcariot Hotel shooting, which resulted in the death of two Canadian nationals seemingly involved with organized crime.
Despite the dire headlines, visitors from across the world have continued to land in Mexico, and especially at its westernmost coast in droves. In fact, the increase in demand has led authorities in Cancun Airport, one of the main commercial hubs used for Tulum-bound travelers, to streamline processing times in order to avoid the infamous bottlenecks at the border.
Currently, Mexico is one of a select few that have zero Covid policies affecting tourists. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated Americans are welcome, with pre-departure testing and the increasingly common health forms not required either. This means that those wishing to escape harsh Covid mandates are able to experience a “near normal” reality when choosing Mexico as their next sunny getaway.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com