Corrupt police scam

Mexico is infamous for its corrupt police, trying to rip off unsuspecting tourists by intimidating them and abusing their power. Most tourists will be happy to pay up after being threatened to be thrown into a Mexican jail.

Tijuana-Mexico-corrupt-Police-scamIn the past, police corruption was such a widespread and omnipresent phenomenon in Mexico, that cops even had to pay hundreds of Dollars every week to their chief, in order to be protected against complaints from extorted tourists or locals. They then had to earn that money back, on top of their regular loot, by wringing the tourists even more.

Local governments of popular holiday destinations have recently started to strike down hard on corrupt cops, as they’ve finally noticed the practice is hurting their tourism business. Heavy penalties against cops taking bribes, but also increased police salaries and an installing CCTV cameras at popular tourist hotspots, and even the use of military patrols have helped to reduce corruption in the police force towards tourists.

Police-bribe-Tijuana-MexicoBut that doesn’t mean Mexican police corruption is completely wiped out. You still have to be careful, especially when driving a car in Mexico. Many tourists to the South-West of the United States also want to visit Mexico, even if it’s just for a single-day visit. But beware if you rent a car in the US and drive it across the border, as an American car with US license plates acts like a magnet to corrupt Mexican cops.

  • Never hand over your driving license. Make copies before you travel and only hand over the copy. You can them show the original, but don’t let the cops get their hands on it, as this will give them leverage to extort money from you in order to give it back.
  • Split your cash over different wallets or different pockets. If a corrupt police officer asks you how many cash you have on you, you can show him one set of bills and hope it is enough to satisfy his desire for. Never let them notice you have any other money on you, because they won’t let you go until they have all the cash you’ve got. And if you don’t have a lot of cash to show, they are more likely to consider you as an uninteresting prey and may even let you go without paying anything.

Find experiences from real victims or post your own story in our Tijuana and Mexico Tourist Scams Forum.




    • Once a time they steal 200 dollars from my wallet when they searching me. First, one cop was stand in front of me, ask me did I using any cocaine, also use flash light on my eyes, another one stand behind him, search my wallet for any cocaine, then he take out 200 dollars put in his partner pocket. Beautiful scam.

  2. Today will be my last time to ever step foot in Tijuana. I got harassed by the police. They wrestled with me and threw me into their car and threaten to take to me the jail. They drove me around for a while then told me to pay if I want to be let go. I paid them $140 dollars and they left me in the middle of the streets of TJ. ***WARNING*** ******DO NOT GO TO MEXICO****** NOT A SAFE PLACE TO GO

  3. Rhonda Shrines says

    On our way back to California today, my partner and I were pulled over in the Sentri Lane at the border to San Diego. We were told we would be fined $5000 at the actual border unless we paid them $1000 right then. We were told we would have to go to an ATM if need be. We were unaware what the Sentri Lane was (we didn’t see any sign explaining). Pretty much, you can get through for free the first time, but any two times after that is uncertain. I negotiated and pleaded for 15 minutes before quickly driving away. We are not sure if the two men were even real cops. Do not speak to anyone in the Sentri Lane.

  4. I just got pulled over after crossing the border.
    One policeman, at the last checkpoint pulled me over, went through my stuff, then sent me on my way.
    Not long before another car with two GOP’s pulled me over.
    First they said I had to go to the station & pay for one refraction. (Tail light out)
    Then, they frisked me, pulled all the money out if my wallet, kept saying.
    “It’s my job”
    I had money to pay rent in Mexico, on me.
    They said “Your money is your money,” as they thumbed through it.
    Then they said they would let me go, with just a warning.
    So, when I was able to pull over someplace safe, I looked through my wallet, and the $500 that I had in hundred dollar bills was missing.
    The smaller bills were there, to avert my attention.
    He put those back in my wallet, making it look like he retuned my cash, but kept the 100’s.
    When I was driving away from the scene, I saw they had turned around, and were pulling over someone going the other direction.
    I’m screwed now.
    I don’t have $ for the rent on my place.

  5. Lonie Piel says

    Where do I report a robbery from 2 corrupt Tijuana police officers who removed $600.00 US dollars from my wallet upon being searched less than a quarter mile from the Border entry X-ray parking lot on June 17,2017 at 12:15am, and additional $900.00 from the other 2 passengers in a 2016 Black Dodge Ram Quadcab pickup with California license plates ,pulling a 22foot center console boat. We were not charged with anything but was accused of hiding money or drugs -repeatedly asked where was it. Released an 35 minutes later without going to a station or being cited for anything. I traveled this route many times before in same vehicle and the first time we take our boat across the border we’re robbed by crooked police officers. One of our passengers was even a city of Los Angeles emergency dispatch employee who was very shaken by this. Someone need to find who they are and remove them from your streets.

  6. We got tricked by three man in the Sentri lane. We didn’t read the signs and got in the Sentri lane to cross the border back to Los Angeles. Two men stopped us before we reach the immigration patrol and told us that there’s was a 5000 fee for going in that lane if we didn’t had the Sentri pass. He said that he will talk to the one in charge and see what he can do to avoid paying the 5000 fee. So he went to get another fat guy that had a fake walky talky and he said yeah what we can do it’s then the monitors off and the cameras for 30
    Seconds while you guys pass fast foe 120$ either that or pay the 5000 fee. We freaked out. And they were pressuring us to hurry up because the police was coming to get us because we were in the wrong lane.. so we agreed to give him the 120$ and he said follow me..
    So we did and as soon as we hit the border patrol he took off.. what a crook man, we didn’t realize that it was a scam because we were scared and didn’t know how to get to the other regular lane to cross the border.. but thank god we were left with a warning by the immigration officers and avoided the 4 hours wait
    To cross the border.. I will never again drive in Mexico..

  7. Edgar Gazca says

    January 2017 – I’ve had the Sentry Lane scare before. I was told it was a $5000 fine and this guy claimed he knew someone at the crossing, he was gonna see if he could get us through. He pretended to make a phone call and walked away. He came back and said his friend was working two lanes over and this friend would let us pass with 5% of the fine. We said okay and he did actually direct traffic to allow us to get two lanes over. This was a very good tactic! It gave him more credibility and we were convinced he was helping us out. He told us to stay in that lane and made another phone call then came back with a friend and told us everything is ready and that they’ll know who we are once we get to the border. They then presented a messenger bag and told us to very discreetly place the 5% in the bag so they can deliver it. That’s where I called BS and told them to fuck off. They then pressured us by attempting to once again scare us with the 5k fine. I told them I’ll take the damn fine or try to talk my way out of it. It’s America, it’s my home. Sure enough we got to the border and were warned about the Sentry lane violation. Yes there’s a 5k fine, but you are left with a warning the first time. They also put your names in their system in case you’re dumb enough to do it again. I frackin’ love my country. This was the first time I was happy to see a Caucasian officer with English words on his uniform. I love Mexico but it’s so full of hungry ass corrupt animals that want something for nothing.

    August 2017 – My cousin picked me up at the Tijuana airport from a flight from Leon Guanajuato. We got a nice hotel and got ready to hit the clubs on a Tuesday night. I’ve been to Tijuana many times before and always have a blast with their night life. We got to Las Pulgas and were looking for parking. Unfortunately my cousin entered a one way street in the opposite direction. He just continued and made a turn at the next street. We got pulled over about 30 seconds later, two cops stepped out. My cousin lives in Tijuana and works in San Diego, but he’s just an absolute dumbass. We were pulled over for the one way street incident but then realized my cousin didn’t have a valid license, a valid registration and a missing taillight. On top of that, the more my cousin talked the more he got us in trouble. I told the officer I was coming from Leon which was true. But then they asked to see my ID which happens to be from California. I was questioned about that and let him know that I really did just get there from Leon and was headed home to California the next night. But I wanted to have some fun and drink a lot of Dos Equis. My experience with my cop was actually pleasant and we casually talked about the night life in Tijuana. My cousin however was a disaster, even when he was telling the truth he sounded unsure, nervous and full of hesitation. So the cops said they were gonna have to fine him and tow his vehicle. The whole thing was gonna cost him like $3500 pesos. My cousin didn’t have any money. They then said if we talk to the tow truck driver we could probably get away with handing him $2000 pesos. My cousin still didn’t have any money. I’m telling you, he is a sheep in a city full of wolves. So that’s when I had to take control of the situation since my cousin was my ride back to the San Diego Amtrak and we’d both be screwed without a car. Plus, when he mentioned the tow truck situation I thought how the hell can a tow truck driver have more authority than a cop?! That’s where I called BS and knew this was about money. Precisely at that moment they turned to me to ask if I had any money. I said I don’t have much. One of the officers said if I had like 1500 pesos, they might be able to work with the tow truck driver but it wasn’t for sure. That officer then shouted at his partner who was on the other side of the vehicle and said “you think the tow truck driver will take 1500?” To which the partner said he’s seen it happen. I know bribing is common in Mexico but I was scared to even try in fear of insulting them and making things worse. But at this point I knew it was definitely about money. So I asked if they had already called the tow truck driver to which they said no not yet but that it looked like they were gonna have to. I told them I had about $1000 pesos in my wallet, and that usually that’s how much the cancellation fee was in the United States. He caught my drift and told me to see if I had enough. I pulled out my wallet and started counting it, I counted $850 pesos plus 1 American dollar. But told the cop I counted either 850 or 950 and showed him that my wallet was completely empty after that. He told us to get in the vehicle and that I should get on the driver side. I was a little scared as he led me to the car and opened the door for me. I thought it was some kind of set up. He said it was cool and told me to get in. I didn’t even turn my back to him as I got in. I didn’t hand him the money, but I kinda held it by the steering wheel as he continued to talk to us through the window. He basically told us that we were pulled over for driving on that one way street and that he had to stop us cause he thought we were drunk, had it not been for that he said he has no reason to pull us over. His eyes quickly shifted to the money, grabbed it, and told us to go home. He didn’t even wait for a response and quickly went to his squad car. They left so quick! They were gone before I could even turn around. I’m sharing this story so that people don’t get scared by their scams, and that yes it’s usually about money. But you have to be street smart, calm, play their game and in the end negotiate on how everyone can just go their separate ways. I think I handled it the best way I could and instead of insulting them by immediately throwing money in their face, I played their game and indirectly made my offer. Don’t be like my cousin basically. That moron lives there and still couldn’t do anything at all constructive to resolve the situation.

    He’s a sheep in a city full of wolves. Don’t be a sheep, every wolf has a negotiable price.

  8. Just got back from TJ, have an American flag sticker on my vehicle, and I’m willing to throw blows with these thugs, or any ignorant drunk. If you go, take a taxi, even stay till the next day, and keep your eyes open; there are a lot of sketchy things going on. Take a few though guys with you, you’ll be fine, and bad things happen everywhere.
    BTW, cops did take our friends car, though I don’t have all details. They got back to US safe that same night, but there are fine. The scare was bigger than the car being taken away.

  9. Yesterday on way back from Rosarito a man actually reached into our car and snatched the Iphone out of my hands. Lesson learned — don’t open your window for anyone. This man was part of a scam redirecting cars into a supposedly closed medical lane due to an “accident.”

  10. I have been shaken down by one short TJ cop twice so far. One night he stopped me for my windows being too dark when they are not and asked me if I was an Arab and threaten to take me back to the station if I don’t pay him $100.
    I ended up paying $50 and this incident ruined my short trip to TJ.
    Again, last week I got a taco from a taco stand and then took the red and white libre taxi to the border. The moment I got into the taxi, I noticed the driver mumbled something on a device in his hand and I thought that was strange. Next he didn’t take the direct path to the border and I questioned him and he replied the road was closed. Very suspicious! We got close to the border and all of a sudden I see flashing lights behind the taxi and the taxi stops. The short TJ police knocks on my window and told me to get out which I did and saw the same MF TJ police.
    I mentioned I already paid him last time and he should let me go and he said no you didn’t have your sit belt on and that is a huge fine.
    I pleaded with him and the little MF had no merci and was getting physical and took out everything out of my pocket again telling me I’m an Árabe!!! All of sudden a police Van came by and I run to the Van and told them everything including how much I love Mexico and Mexican people and the older officer from the Van told me to pick up my stuff and go. I picked up my stuff and turned to the little MF TJ police and gave him a piece of my mind in my broken Spanish in which he called me a few names I rather not to repeat.
    In closing, I would like to say be careful which and where you hire a taxi. These corrupt cops work with these taxi drivers and it is all a well coordinated effort to scam you.
    I love Mexico and Mexicans and they are also the victims of these scams. I still plan to visit Mexico but I have a different feeling and outlook on Mexico and “tengo Miedo”.
    I hope one day soon my Mexican brothers get rid of these corrupt cops so we can all visit in peace and Mexico and Mexicans prosper!!!!💖💕❤️

    • Same thing happened to me the other night. It was a short chubby police officer. As I got in the cab. I noticed that the cab driver got on his phone and mumbled something. Next thing I know there is a cop behind us flashing his lights. He asked us both to get out of the car and put our hands on the hood. I found it interesting that the cop did not frisk the cab driver and only frisked me. He asked if I had any drugs on me. I told him no. He emptied out my pockets and took my money out of my wallet. The cab driver distracted me by asking what I did for a living. I guess when I turned to talk to him during that split second. The cop took $80 out of my wallet. The cop let us go. The cab driver kept apologizing, but I suspect he was in on it as well.

      • This past Saturday night a Friend drop me off on the east border crossing, and a policia truck waved me down and tried to take me down to there station accusing me of being on drugs.they were about to take me until I called my friend who lives out there and he talk to them.they let me go with $200 still my wallet but I heard them say the spot where we were at had cameras.

  11. Sanook Travel says

    I was pulled over this evening around 10:40 PM after arriving across the border just a few minutes ago, it’s Halloween Night 2018 and the patrol car states that I was driving too slow. In my defense, I meant to drive cautiously so that I don’t deviate into a wrong road because I was planning to head over to Plaza Rio. I don’t come here often, and it is difficult to drive at night because the signs are not too clear and the roads our difficult to drive on. At first it started positively, one of the police officers approached my window and extended his hand messaging he wanted to shake so I extended mine and we did shake hands. He asked me why I was heading towards, I told him the Plaza Rio mall. He was visibly surprised when he asked me where I was coming from, which is Hawaii and the fact that I had just landed at San Diego airport about 45 minutes ago. He instructed me to open the trunk of my car so he can see the back and asked if I had failed to declare anything upon entering Mexico. I told him that I only was carrying my personal items, he is welcome to check. I certainly noticed, but his partner had immediately headed towards the front passenger side and had opened the door and was going through my backpack opening all zippers. I walk to the side, and asked the officer to bring my backpack towards the back trunk so that I can see what he’s doing and what he’s looking at. I found this action to be very suspicious, I have for my safety I wanted to see what was going on. As you probably know there have been many cases of planted evidence or money/valuables missing in the past. The officer that was with me in the back of the car started to shove me and push me prevented me to see what his partner was doing and told me to put my two hands on top of the open trunk, then started yelling at me and asked me why was I still concerned about his partner checking my backpack. He started to yell at me in Spanish if there was something I was hiding, drugs or weapons? I told him no, but that my wallet and valuables are in the backpack and all I want is that if they want to rummage through that to do it in my presence. I was still concerned about his partner check in my backpack. The officer then proceeded to tell me that I am nobody to tell them what to do, and they can do what they want. He then proceeded to do something very unusual, he pulled out a large wide, at least about a half inch thick of $100 bills and told me that I don’t need to be concerned about them trying to steal from us because he has way more than I do. The officer then started to tell me that they could easily just rob me or my car if they felt like it. I was threatened to be arrested if I continue to talk and stand my ground. So I just decided stay quiet, at the end all I was caring which is $300 and eventually they backed off and told me to go out my way. But this left a bad taste in my mouth. Ruined my evening. These guys try to use intimidation and threaten to take me to the police station because they were going to have to sanction me with some summons due to a vehicle violation, which I don’t even know what violation they even be. It was all nonsense.

  12. Got pulled over by 2 police officers just south of Otay Mesa border crossing. Accused of running 2 stop signs and told to pay $200 US dollars. I didn’t have that amount and asked for a ticket and direction to station. One officer said CASH, CASH. I told him I had pesos not US dollars that he wanted. He said 3000 pesos which I paid as it was 8:30 at night and I am a 71 yo woman traveling alone. Told me I was “clear”. Never got a receipt for my alleged infraction. Be very careful!

  13. Virgo Tiger says

    My friends and I went to Tijuana this past weekend. We had a great time at the clubs the first daty. We took Uber to bring us around but on Saturday night my phone did not have any reception. We left Hong Kong Gentlemen’s Club at 2009, Calle Coahuila, Zona Nte., 22000 Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. There are a bunch of taxis waiting on the corner asking if you need a ride. My friends became impatient then asked the a taxi driver how much to take us to the border. The taxi driver said $5 so my friends and I jumped at the deal. He then commanded another guy to take us to the border. We hopped in his car and later saw blue and red lights. The driver panicked and slowly put his seat belt on. A short chubby, balding cop said something in Spanish and pointed at his seat belt then ours. The taxi driver then said that he’s going to get a ticket and can’t afford it. He asked us if we could help to pay for the ticket. He then became stressed and was nervous. The cop then asked my friend to get out of the car and he searched him. He came back saying that the cop gave him back his money, so that relieved my worries about him stealing from us because we had a money left over from the strip clubs. I questioned why the taxi driver was allowed to get out of the car when he was searching my other 3 friends. The cop then asked me to get out and I had about $180 in my wallet, mostly one and five dollars bill and a few twenties and one fifty dollar bill. I specifically remember not spending the single fifty dollar bill because I did not want to break it. He pulled the money out of my wallet and gave the money to me but checked the wallet. I think from the moment he took the money out, he asked me if I knew any Spanish and it distracted me for a moment so that he could pocket some cash or the taxi driver standing outside took my money when I turned around talking to the cop. Later the cop let us go and the taxi driver persisted to ask us to help him with the ticket, but I never seen him with the ticket. He then dropped us off at the border. We were relieved to get back to the US safely because we heard horror stories about kidnappings and robberies. Later my friend checked his cash and found out that the cop took $200. I then checked my wallet and I only had one twenty dollar bill, a five dollar bill and the rest in ones. The total he left in my wallet was $50. I couldn’t believe it! Never ride the taxis near a busy area, especially around strip clubs. Also, always bring what you plan to spend. Finally, a county where the police are corrupt is a dangerous country to visit. NOT only do you have to worry about the cartels, robberies, kidnapping and crime but you also have to worry about the police that are supposed to protect you to rob you! Mexico is NOT safe!

  14. Tim Shepard says

    Just happened to me. Left a club and got into a taxi libre with about $300 in my wallet and a few blocks down the road police lights. Cops pulled us over made me get out. Made me bend over the hood and took my wallet and made a lot of intimidating remarka about maybe I have viagra or I am nervous. I complied fully and they let me go but they only left $100 in my wallet. Actually since the border has gotten more stringent, police harassment of Americans has gotten worse. Ive been frisked on Avemida Revolucion 2 times before but they never took anything. This trip I decided to only travel by taxi. I havent been back in over a year but i finally got caught up and it cost me almost $200. Beware, Mexico is corrupt and probably always will be. Avoid.

  15. Yesterday we got scammed by a group of men at the San Ysidro Border. Like everyone else we went through the wrong lane called Sentri. Which we never heard of it or knew what this lane was for. We were approach by a man who was selling sweaters stating we were going to pay a fine of $5000 and that we had to wait for the police officer. When he arrived he stated we had to pay 10% which was 1000. They demanded my husband to get of the car and take money out of his ATM. Thank god he was only able to take out $400 and that’s what they scammed us with. If you can avoid this lane!! Don’t talk to anyone on the sentri lane.

  16. Janessa ruiz says

    I was in Tijuana visiting a sick relative today !!! and we were in a newer decent car and we were stopped … the cops tried asking many questions to see what they can find on us any drugs , valid license insurance information ext ext well in the end they found nothing but our tinted windows in out car that they can use against us …so theses corrupt pair of cops basically said that they would impound our car and give us a ticket for the windows unless we gave them money …they pretty much robbed us for 300 today!!! cause we gave it to them to avoid going t all that trouble !! But this goes to show you there still corrupt Mexican cops that steel money and abuse there force and authority !!! We never expected to get harassed and treated horribly !!! it’s awful cause because of this we won’t be visiting our sick relative there no more….

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