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Tulum Authorities Vow To Combat Corrupt Police Extorting Tourists

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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.

Municipal Police In A Town In Mexico

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.

Policeman Gives Driver A Ticket

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.

Mexican National Guard In Tulum

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.

Mexican Army Patrolling Beach

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?

Mayan Ruins In Tulum, Mexico

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.

COVID-19 Mask In Tulum

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.

Passengers Transiting Through Duty Free Zone In Cancun International Airport

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.

Read More:

Travel Insurance That Covers Covid-19 For 2022

These Popular Mexico Destinations Face New Restrictions As Cases Rise

White House Urged To Lift Testing Requirement For Americans Flying Home

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

Malissa Reid

Thursday 11th of May 2023

Me & a friend traveled to Tulum, we left the restaurant we went to and we on our way to the place we were going for the night, we were driving about 20km because we were looking at all the places around where we were. The officer waved his flashlight to signal us to pull over. I was completely confused because we were driving slow! He told us we were speeding and used a translator app to tell us that we could receive a fine & have our license revoked. I said but I wasn’t speeding!? He said you were I will have to revoke your license unless you pay the fine now & he requested $3000 pesos. I told him I didn’t have that kind of money and he said well what do you have I can’t work with you, I was so frustrated I said I only have $200 in cash on me & he told the other officer he was with & told me that was ok. I demanded my license before handing him the cash. I felt so violated and scared after having a police officer basically rob me for the cash I had! I immediately booked a flight back home & returned the rental which was an hour and 30mins away as I drove super slow scared shitless! I will NEVER come to Mexico again! The locals drive like bats out of hell but they target the tourist because they know how to identify rental cars. On the way to the airport they pulled a car over & me & my friend said to one another this is crazy! But was glad it wasn’t us again.


Thursday 7th of July 2022

Yesterday my husband and I were pulled over by the police. We were about 10 minutes away from our hotel Secrets Playa Majueres. The officer claimed we were speeding pass a check point took my husband driver's license and said we either pay them $4000 pesos on the spot and go or he writes us a ticket and we go to the station the next day and pay $7000 pesos and then my husband will get his driver's license returned to him. I told him we were not speeding, we were driving slower than all the cars that were flying pass us, so why was we and the other tourist in front of us the only ones pulled over. When I debunked the speeding his next excuse was my husband was on his phone. Again I told him that's not true, my husband phone was on the console and the navigation was on. After going back and forth with them and me threatening to call the hotel for help the officer got agitated and let us go. My husband and I are from New York and we were both born in the Caribbean. We've traveled all over the Caribbean and to many different countries rented cars and never experienced anything like this. I will never return to Mexico and I will encourage family and friends not to.


Sunday 6th of February 2022

This extortion has gone on for DECADES, UNABATED!! It's NOT ONLY the Mexican Police -- the Mexican Govt. better look at their Customs & Immigration officers who are rampant with extortion because tourists are literally at their mercy to enter & leave Mexico!

I had 3 young ladies that I booked to Cancun for a long weekend. Upon departure back to the U.S., Mexican Customs & Immigration security personnel extorted $20 each from them through the "red light/green light" random selection process (which is/has been BS in itself).

My husband and I have been targeted on 2 different occasions, too: At the CUN airport upon arrival by a Customs & Immigration official who claimed my husband's documents were not "legal" ($40 extortion -- one is at their mercy with no choice but to comply!). Another time by a Mexican Police motorc ycle cop who claimed we were driving 10 KM's over the speed limit. Luckily for us, his extortion effort ceased when we told him we were travel agents.

Tourists are ripe for the picking especially when renting vehicles. All vehicles have rental agency bumper stickers which is the "target" for unscrupulous cops. The other situation is the rental agencies who have mandatory insurance premium requirements. They'll also claim vehicular damage once the tourist returns the vehicle...even though damage was ON the vehicle before it was rented!!

Another extortion scam is in the shops. An item suddenly falls off a wall and breaks. There are no other tourist witnesses around. The tourist nearest the broken item is accused of its breakage & a monetary demand is made by the shop owner. If the tourist argues (which every innocent person does), Police are called -- and they're "in" on the scam, too.

The tourist does NOT win. EVER.


Monday 7th of February 2022

@MizCricket, Tourists don’t win if they don’t speak Spanish and comply. That is why they are an easy target.


Sunday 6th of February 2022

Because the police is so corrupt in the State of Quintana Roo, the local law says that the fines for minor traffic violation must be waived for the first 2 infractions when it involves tourists. I wish that rental car companies would be obliged to tell that when renting out a car and include a copy of the article: CAPITULO XVII APOYO AL TURISTA. Artículo 241