What should you do if a corrupt cop in Mexico wants a bribe?
He’s either falsely accusing you of pissing in the street like you can read about with my situation here or he actually caught you doing something illegal like have cocaine on person.
Now he wants a bribe.
Well, I’ve bribed cops at least 2 times in Mexico and a security guard 1 time in the DR.
I’m definitely not the biggest expert on bribing or dealing with corrupt cops but I thought it over, looked at advice other gringos give and put it all together here.
I’m not saying any of the advice below will absolutely work but it’s worked for others and, just to remember, every situation is different.
What works one time might not work the next time.
Still, since I live in Latin America, it’s a topic that I’ve been meaning to put a list together for anyway for quite some time as the topic of corrupt cops is always coming up every so often.
This is for Mexico obviously but some of the advice below would work for other Latin countries like the DR or Colombia based on my experience and the experience of other gringos or Latin American locals that I know.
At any rate, I don’t endorse every piece of advice in this list as some are less likely to work than others but hopefully it helps you somehow.
If you got any advice yourself by the way, leave it below in the comment section as I would love to expand the list of tips and improve the current ones I got to help others.
But let’s get to it now.
What Should You Do?
Honestly, cops planting drugs on people does happen but, when I think of all of the bad cop stories I’ve heard, it doesn’t seem likely to happen to you.
And, to be fair, I’m talking out of my ass to some degree when I try giving advice here for what you should do because, as I said, I’ve never had a cop plant drugs on me anywhere in the world.
If I happened to be really drunk during a moment like this, I’m scared to think that I’d get in the cop’s face and start berating him, calling him a faggot, threatening him, etc.
Which, if that happened, maybe I’d find myself in a hole in a desert. Or would they burn my body in a trash can behind a bar?
The question of the century.
Still, having bribed cops and heard other gringo stories, what do I think you should do?
First, never carry much money on you. If you don’t got much, they can’t take much and will eventually just accept what you have.
Personally, I never carry more than 15 bucks on person in most cases unless I’m going to buy something more expensive or got back from the ATM machine/grocery store.
Second, try not to be an ass or aggressive obviously. Even though the Mexican cop is likely a chubby 5’5 dude with a 3 inch dick and who is still insecure about his last wife cheating on him with an American, I promise you that punching him in the face will only mean 10 more Mexican midget cops will descend upon you.
You might be able to handle 1 Mexican midget but 10?
Well, that depends on how much you lift, bro.
Third, I’ve heard stories of gringos recording these cops during the interaction or pretending to be on the phone with some lawyer and it actually working.
I would’ve always been inclined to think that the cop would just steal the phone or break it but supposedly it has scared some cops before!
Fourth, should you pretend to not speak Spanish? As I wrote here, some gringos think that will frustrate the cop and make him go away.
If you don’t have your passport on you (and especially if you aren’t white where they’d go through all the European languages they know on Google translate), then I could see this working in your favor.
Even if you are white, whose to say you can’t pretend to be from Bosnia or something? Are Mexican midget cops smart enough to know what they speak?
And, if you’re black or Asian, there’s plenty more obscure languages one could pretend to know!
In my experience anyway, I found speaking Spanish helps my negotiating skills but I’ve heard gringos give other opinions on the matter. Just throwing it out there.
Fifth, I’ve heard stories of cops trying to get people out of view from the city cameras (C5) in Mexico City. For those in Mexico City, I would wonder if you could resist being taken out of view from those cameras?
I don’t know but, if mixed in with the “I don’t speak Spanish or English” bit, I could see doing both as a way to frustrate the cop out of leaving you alone.
Sixth, don’t carry an expensive phone on you if possible.
The American phone I have is actually worth a decent amount of money (or was when new) and I wouldn’t carry it with me outside.
Personally, I was surprised they didn’t steal the phone of the guy I met at the café in this article here.
Whenever I’m outside, I personally just don’t have my phone on me anyway (for other reasons outside of concerns about theft) but, if I were to take a phone with me, it’d be my cheap Mexican burner phone.
It’s only worth 35 bucks or whatever. It’s garbage really. Works to text people if I’m planning on seeing someone and am traveling somewhere but not much for anything else.
Seventh, don’t carry your debit card on you unless necessary.
I know it’s sounds like fear mongering to not carry any of this on you but, just from my perspective, why do it?
I only carry on me what is necessary because I just prefer having everything hidden away at home.
Eighth, can you pretend to “know your rights?”
Like those folks who record cops in the US and say over and over “I know my rights. I know my rights.”
Honestly, I’ve seen videos of people trying that in the US and getting their ass kicked.
Given this is Mexico, I feel like you’d just piss the cop off and he’d get aggressive.
However, I have heard stories of other expats saying how it scared the cop and he left.
Never heard a story of a cop attacking some foreigner because he said that.
At any rate, if you want to go this route, here’s some things I have heard can work if you say maybe some of the following:
- Cual es su nombre completo?
- Puedo ver su identificación?
- Es prohibido bajo ley mexicano de detenerme sin un orden en escrito, indicando que he hecho un crimen.
- Voy a grabar y denunciar, yo se mis derechos.
To give credit, I found people saying that these expressions supposedly help here.
You also might want to write them down in case you don’t speak Spanish well enough to remember how to say them and respond back appropriately when the cop responds.
Now, as I said, I’m a little skeptical of how well this would work but I have heard the stories of gringos pulling the “I have rights, I’ll denounce you” bit and it working.
In most stories I’ve heard, the cop either gets scared and does something to end the encounter quickly or he doubles down in agitation but finally grabs his small balls and leaves you alone after an hour or less.
Ninth, do know your rights anyhow regardless of if you plan on proclaiming that you know them. You are allowed to record cops when they are dealing with you, they can’t force you out of a car technically and, from what I heard, you have the right to know their name if they are interacting with you.
Also, you got the whole Article 16 of the Mexican Constitution that you can read about here.
"All people have the right to oppose the disclosure of his data, according to the law. The law shall establish exceptions to the criteria that rule the handling of data, due to national security reasons, law and order, public security, public health, or protection of third party's rights."
Tenth, I’ve wondered to myself, just as a theory, if calling the cops on the cops would work?
So a cop stops you demanding bribe for a fake crime.
What if you used the app MI POLICIA that exists in Mexico City to call more police over?
Or, if they take your phone or you don’t have the app, what if you use those buttons you see around the city to notify the police of an emergency like you can see here?
At least in Mexico City, those things exist around the city.
The idea being here anyway that obviously not every cop is corrupt and this dude doesn’t want to drag out the process too long for getting cash out of you nor does he want to involve anyone else into the incident.
He just wants to stop you, give you his broken retard English of “gringo, gringo, drugs drugs gringo? Give me money,” take your money and leave without taking you to jail actually.
So, assuming that not every cop in Mexico is corrupt, if you call cops to come visit, would it work?
Then, in theory, he’d be worried that this is reaching the eyes of others and, especially if a C5 camera is recording all of this from above, he might be concerned of being exposed.
Honestly, I have no idea if this would work.
Part of me would be concerned if you’d get in trouble for “calling the cops unnecessarily.”
Even though, objectively speaking, you aren’t because one is trying to rob you so you’d want a non-corrupt cop.
And, to a degree, I wonder if you could play your “foreigner advantage” by playing to be the dumb foreigner who doesn’t speak Spanish and didn’t know if this dude was a real cop or not.
Could that be a good defence if they get mad at you thinking you called the cops unnecessarily?
In reality though, I think the worst case scenario is either the cop gets another corrupt cop to visit you or they don’t send anyone.
Anyway, I haven’t tried this theory out so I don’t recommend it (just tossing ideas out there) and don’t sue me if it turns out badly.
Eleventh, what if you do denounce a cop? Does it work?
Honestly, I’ve heard a surprising amount of stories online these days of people going through with it and it actually working.
If you want tips on how to maybe make it work, getting advice from those who have done it on Facebook expat in Mexico groups could be helpful.
Beyond that, you do have resources you can use.
For example, there’s an email that you can reach out to here: email@example.com
Also, according to this source here, you can call these numbers.
Twelfth, obviously not walking outside late at night would help reduce the chances of this happening to you.
Thirteenth, I’ve heard stories of folks just taking the cops for a ride with seemingly lots of free time. Supposedly the cops in some cases will just get annoyed that it’s not leading to any bribes and just let you go eventually (even if it takes some odd hours).
Similarly, the cop might try to scare you with “taking you to jail” but, from the stories I’ve heard, it doesn’t always happen and is many times just a scare tactic supposedly.
Fourteenth, would the embassy help?
Honestly, I doubt it.
I’ve heard of embassies primarily helping with getting a translator or other services but I never heard of them being able to pursue cops for being corrupt or intervening in local police departments. I don’t think they have that jurisdiction.
Still, like I said, there’s a few things they could do but getting a cop off your ass is not one of them seemingly.
Fifteenth, though I’m not trying to “blame the victim” as some are sensitive to, it is true that you shouldn’t put yourself in situations where you are actually guilty of something and need to bribe your way out of it.
Situations like doing drugs, being drunk in public, etc,
While I’m not here to judge you if you like your vices (hey, I do too), just saying that it obviously reduces the likelihood of being put in a situation where you got to bribe someone anyway.
Sixteenth, can you just walk away?
Like you can see here, it supposedly works.
Funny enough, I have wondered to myself if I could just say “no tengo monedas” and keep walking if a cop approached me.
Pretend like he’s a homeless person asking for change.
Sixteenth, what if the cop plants drugs on you?
At that point, I’d wonder if paying a bribe might be helpful here.
But, as I said, if you are nice and show him this is all the money you got, then he either takes it or leaves it (hopefully you didn’t carry much on you).
Still, in that scenario, I’d probably go along with a bribe because, unless you got cameras recording it from somewhere like the C5, I’d imagine you’d have a tough case winning in court and not put in jail.
Though, as I said, that’s just speculation. I don’t know how likely he’d actually take you to jail but I’ve heard stories, like you can read here, of gringos having drugs planted on them.
And, in other stories I’ve heard, some have been taken to jail and charged supposedly.
So who knows but I’m only saying I’d probably work with him at that point and hand a bribe over.
Anything to Add?
Got anything to add?
As I’ve implied, much of this is more informal advice.
I’ve had experience with bribing cops before and heard enough stories but I’m not a lawyer.
This story is simply nothing more than to throw ideas out there for what you could maybe do.
Personally, what would I do in most of these cases?
Assuming I wasn’t drunk and more easily a smartass, I’d probably bribe.
At the end of the day, I normally only carry with me like 2 to 15 bucks normally on person.
So what if a cop steals 5 bucks or whatever from me?
It isn’t going to break the bank.
Wow – now he can get a 6 pack tonight! Hope he enjoys it as he continues to life in a shithole apt. in Neza with his wife (also known as cousin).
Obviously, my tune would be different if I had 200 on me or something like that but I never carry that much unless I am literally walking out of an ATM.
Which is like once a month.
So, for those aspiring shithead cops out there wanting a bribe because you were too mentally retarded to do well in school for a better job, now you know when to get me!
You got your once a month opportunity. Don’t blow it, kid.
At any rate, like I said, I personally lead towards showing the dude what little I have and throwing a 5 at him because that 5 is less valuable than the hour or two that he’ll take to take from my life.
Regardless, if you got anything to add, throw a comment below in the comment section.
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Thanks for reading.