A Canadian visitor to Mexico City has recounted a frightening encounter with police in which he was forced to hand over US $500 shortly after renting a car at the Benito Juárez International Airport.
In emails to Mexico News Daily, Vancouver-based general contractor Amin Jafari said that he traveled to Mexico City with his elderly parents on May 20. He rented a car and approximately 10 minutes after leaving the airport was pulled over by three police officers on motorcycles.
“They told me to pull over … and I was … completely shocked because I didn’t do anything wrong,” Jafari wrote.
“… They were speaking Spanish and I didn’t understand it. A … [police officer] used Google Translate and showed me that I had to pay US $500 so they will release me without any issues,” he wrote.
He said that he asked why he was stopped but the police failed to give him a reason. Using Google Translate on his phone, one officer told Jafari that he would confiscate his driver’s license and remove the plates from his rental car if he didn’t pay the mordida, or bribe.
“[I paid] US $500 cash. We didn’t have any other choice,” he wrote in one of two emails sent to Mexico News Daily.
“As a tourist, we didn’t have a phone to call someone. … One of the cops kept hitting … [the] trunk. … [It was a] very scary situation, especially for my … parents,” Jafari wrote, adding that he took his mother and father on a trip to Costa Rica and Mexico City so they could enjoy themselves after going through a difficult time during the pandemic.
“To be honest … [the police] ruined … our trip. My parents got so scared … [that] they couldn’t trust people around us. I canceled so many activities that I … planned for [Mexico City],” he said.
Jafari said he didn’t report the incident while he was in the Mexican capital because he felt intimidated. “We didn’t have a safe feeling with … the police,” he wrote.
Jafari’s experience is far from unique, although the size of the mordida he paid is much larger than most unofficial payments for traffic infractions, whether they are manufactured by police or not. A recent survey conducted by the national statistics agency INEGI found that Mexicans pay almost 18,500 bribes per day to police officers and public servants.
Mexico News Daily