Four members of Cancun’s Tourist Police have been discharged this year for extortion and disorderly conduct. This was confirmed by Benito Juarez’s Secretary of Public Security and Transit, Rear Admiral Ruben Pedrero. In addition to the tourist police, four police officers working for the department of Internal Affairs and eight members of the Transit Police are under investigation after tourists and citizens came forward with allegations of bad behavior.
Most complaints filed against the officers in question alluded to an abuse of authority, including the extortion and coercion of tourists. This created an uproar on Mexican social media, with tourists and locals alike alleging they had been mistreated by members of the police in some way.
The police who are currently being held under investigation are being questioned by municipal agents. This should help to build a case against officers who have committed a crime to ensure they are not able to work in public security again.
This may come as a shock to some travelers, as Cancun’s tourist police are specially trained to answer tourists’ questions and aid them in their time of need. Initially founded in 2017, the Tourist Police Unit is also present in Acapulco and Los Cabos. The aim of this special police unit was to protect individuals from tourist-specific crimes, including muggings, petty theft, extortion, and drug-related violence.
The Tourist Police force even expanded over the months of July and August after an influx of summer tourists put a strain on the police’s already thin resources. Therefore, the need to train more police in Cancun and its surrounding areas was dire, as explained by one of Mexico’s specialists in Public Security, Oswaldo Wiacro:
“ [The lack of officers]… causes them to be unable to cope with their obligations since they do not have the support of more colleagues who can help them in their work. At the end of the day, this has repercussions on public safety”.
A great number of police were trained specifically for tourist-related queries, with some members of the force even receiving top-of-the-range security equipment for better surveillance of tourist-populated areas. Overall, tourists considered this to have a positive impact on their safety, as a larger presence of Tourist Police should mean that there is more security within Cancun’s crime-heavy areas.
Benito Juarez’s Secretary of Public Security has since expressed his disappointment at the current situation, going as far as saying that a complaint should be filed with the State Attorney General’s Office to ensure that harsh punishments are given. These punishments could potentially consist of removal from office and a criminal sanction if the crimes are proven to have occurred.
Pedrero has worked within the office of Benito Juarez’s Public Security sector for two years and has since stated that it is difficult to put a stop to these issues in such a short period of time.
However, the more evidence that comes out during the investigation, the better the chances are of police being prosecuted and for the same mistakes to not be made twice:
“There are bad practices (by police) that have been reduced. I have not made them disappear… however, when cases are reported, and the evidence is presented to me, we act accordingly without hesitation”.
Pedrero also added that citizens and locals alike had been immensely helpful throughout the investigation, as their reports on the police officers helped to build a strong case. Tourists who have been affected by any of the crimes mentioned above involving tourist police or other police forces in Cancun are encouraged to phone or email municipal agents of Quintana Roo to ensure that these abuses of authority do not continue.
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