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Tulum Authorities Vow To Combat Corrupt Police Extorting Tourists

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Move Comes In The Wake Of Video Showing French Tourists Falling Victim To Local Police

The Tulum authorities have announced that they will be taking measures to help combat police corruption in the area. The measures will be focussed particularly on tourist extortion.

police at beach

A recent video published and shared on Facebook sparked the announcement. In the video, a group of French tourists is extorted after being pulled over for speeding. The tourists are told they must withdraw money from an ATM before having their licenses returned to them. In this instance, the officer in question was identified and has been released from duty.

The reaction appears to be in line with Tulum’s new zero-tolerance policy. According to Óscar Aparicio Avendaño, director of Public Security, Tulum will not allow any officer caught engaging in any form of corruption or extortion to continue working on the force. He did stress that there are good officers on the force, and not to let the poor decisions of a small group tarnish the greater majority.

motorcycle policeman

Police extortion cases are common in many of the world’s major tourist hotspots. Officers will stop tourists for small infringements and claim they need to pay a fine on the spot or be arrested. Many tourists, panicking at the thought of being in a foreign prison will hand over as much cash as was requested. In reality, no ticket would necessarily have been issued or a warning would have been sufficient.


Instances such as this are a frustration for the tourist industry in Mexico. The country is currently fighting a war of reputation against neighboring countries and the world media. Although Quintana Roo and the majority of the other major tourist hubs in the country are safe, several high-profile incidents have led to negative global headlines and official warnings from the United States.

policeman and and bike

In Quintana Roo, tourism equates to almost 87% of the total GDP. The state is too heavily reliant on visitors for fear to prevent many from arriving. Tulum is expecting a new airport in 2023 as well as the arrival of the Maya Train. Both projects should boost tourism in the area greatly but many fear situations like this will result in fewer making the trip. There is even the concern that those who do come may find themselves too uncomfortable to leave their resorts.

police bike

Most of the incidents in question have revolved around the increase in violent organized crime that Quintana Roo has seen in the past months. One tragic event left two tourists dead after being caught in the crossfire between rival gangs. Another global attention grabber was the recent double assassination at the Hotel Xcaret which saw two men shot in broad daylight.

national guard

Although situations like this are the exception and not the rule, state and local governments are scrambling to find solutions to help steady potential travelers’ nerves. 1500 soldiers from the National Guard have been placed in Quintana Roo in an effort to calm the nerves of visitors to the area. It is hoped that the increase in soldiers will greatly reduce the probability of any further violence taking place.

police car

The future is not bleak for Tulum or Quintana Roo. Tourist numbers are still high and, with the epidemiological traffic light level returning to yellow, more can be expected soon. The violence and other unfavorable sides to the region have so far proved that it takes a lot for tourists to be deterred, but as the state seeks to turn itself into a consistently world-class destination in the years following the pandemic, police corruption will most definitely have the attention of government officials.

No further details about the measures being taken have been announced. 

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Jon M

Friday 25th of August 2023

If authorities really want to crack down on this problem, the quickest way to do it would be to create a dual language app (Spanish/English) which allows the driver to pay the fine on the spot with a credit card, and publicise the app through car rental companies and travel agents do that it can be downloaded in advance by the traveller/driver. Was just pulled over today twice and literally robbed by the Mexican police for a total of 500 usd. Wish I had read advice about how to behave beforehand.


Tuesday 15th of November 2022

They're doing it all over Cancun. Well known scam. Putting fear and trying to force paying $500 for minor, usually fake infractions. Threatening to keep the license unless paying. Stay out of this crap city.

Andy Cooper

Sunday 19th of June 2022

We just left Cancun his morning. Almost abducted!! Handcuffed and thrown around sustaining injuries. We are now trying to get the US Embassy involved. Sunday 4:30am June 19th I know who they are and will identify. Recorded and they ripped the phone out of hands and deleted. Apple can restore and we will publish. We travel several times a year to Mexico and spend a lot of money there. NO MORE. All over the $50 they extorted. Stay away from Cancun as well. The whole country is corrupt with these police who are supposed to help us. If you are told to stop. Don’t do it. Keep driving and go to public area and set your record on your phone and immediately send to someone.


Thursday 16th of June 2022

Was in Tulum last week and the police stopped my snorkeling tour shuttle run (supposedly) by The driver then boarded the bus and told the tourists they needed to gather as much cash as they could to pay the officer in order for us to be allowed to continue on our way. I think the cop got $20 out of us and let us go. A few days later my son and his friends were stopped and the police extorted $200 in cash from them before letting them go with no tickets, no charges. This is continuing. I will not return to Tulum or the area and have told everyone I know to spread the word that the police are doing this to tourists and recommend everyone should avoid traveling there. It is unbelievable that the cops would do this as they should want the area to flourish and their behavior is resulting in the exact opposite - the driving away of tourists from the area. Disgusting.

Adam Jason

Monday 2nd of May 2022

We are in Tulum right now and have been pulled over twice today in a rental car with the police both times asking to be paid within the main road of Tulum. We paid $100 USD today on the same road.

Earlier today we talked about purchasing a home here, coming for another birthday in July ($15,000+ USD Revenue for Tulum) all done after two corrupt and un called for police incidents. Tulum - this is not how you attract tourists nor long term international residents. Police = Safety not killing your own pay check for $50 cash.


Thursday 16th of June 2022

@Adam Jason, yep. They were pulling cars over left and right and mopeds as well just outside of Kore Tulum by the roundabout and extorting money from them. I was victimized and my son was victimized on two seperate incidents last week. They're idiots out to make some quick cash instead of do what they should be doing and protecting tourists from this crap. I will never return to Tulum and have posted all over the internet and told everyone that will listen not to travel to Tulum So sad.