There is nothing that says “Mexican Holiday” more than paying a bribe to the local police. In fact, paying off corrupt cops is as common as tacos and cervazas south of the border. College students heading down for Spring Break, for example, all know to keep an extra $20 bill in their pockets for the inevitable shakedown.
I’d like to say this is all urban legend, but I have too many friends who have had to fork out the dough or face a night in a Mexican pokey.
One of the most common places for the shakedown is along the five mile strip of road between Tijuana and the nearest beach towns. This well-traveled highway is frequented by numerous tourists heading south for the holidays, or perhaps just a weekend at their beach house. And all seem to be speeding no matter how slow they drive.
Concerned that such a horrific reputation was pissing off tourists and damaging further foreign investment in the region, Tijuana officials have announced that they initiated a crackdown in the region against bad cops. Not only have some of the worst offenders have been transferred elsewhere, but an all-female battalion has been stationed in the area to promote good will and reassure tourists crossing the border.In a novel move, local officials have gone so far as to make the entire five mile strip of highway leading to the beach a No Pull-Over Zone in which local police are prevented from pulling over anyone with foreign plates whatsoever.
Now that’s a novel approach! But don’t get too excited. Cameras will still monitor the highway to make sure that gringos don’t start taking advantage of the No Pull-Over Zone. And don’t worry; there will be plenty of Mexican cops elsewhere in the country to provide you with that authentic south of the border experience.