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The Benefits of Informal Police in Latin America

Published May 30, 2022 in Health & Safety - 0 Comments

Over the last few articles I wrote, there have been some negative things said about police in Latin America.

But, if I'm being honest with you, it's not entirely bad.

There are some benefits to the "informality" of police in Latin America.

For one, if you have the heart to be a scammer and know a buddy who is a local Latin American cop, then I could see how you two could set up a scam to scam other gringos and make big bucks.

That's not bad, is it?

Well, bad for the people who get scammed.

But your bank account is smiling!

Of course, in the real world, not many gringos are setting themselves up with local cops to scam people.

Mostly because most of them 1) don't have the heart, intelligence or nature to scam others and 2) they don't know any corrupt local cops to do business with.

But, since we're on the topic of "questionable behavior," there is the other benefit of being able to just bribe your way out of anything you did bad.

Like how you have stories of gringos being caught doing drugs and they just throw a few bills at the cop to piss off and he does.

That's a little bit better than being locked up and having your life ruined, isn't it?

Or to bribe yourself out of other laws you might brake down here (within reason, I doubt you can bribe your way out of something insane like murder but maybe you could if you somehow joined a Narco group or became a powerful businessman).

Regardless, those are all the obvious benefits to the informality of police down here.

Similar to other benefits to the informality of life in Latin America that I wrote about here.

So, above all of that, is there anything else to mention?

Well, in recent article, there is one other benefit that I mentioned casually that I'd like to dedicate an entire article to briefly because it's worth mentioning on its own.

And that benefit is how police down here have a "more informal" way of dealing with criminals that can resolve issues more quickly than trying to take some shithead in front of a judge.

This "informal treatment" often involving kicking the living shit out of the criminal in question or threatening to kill the motherfucker in some random location.

In some cases, the "informal treatment" can at least scare some people (like thieves) to giving you your shit back.

And, in other cases, it can "feel" like a more proper punishment for certain types of folks that most of society hates with a burning passion.

Those being murderers, rapists, etc.

Though, here in Mexico, I'd say quite a few people are OK with lynching thieves also.

Just the other day, I was at an outside market near Metro Deportivo 18 de Marzo and saw a sign outside the metro that said "we will lynch you if caught stealing. We are not reporting you to the police."

Reminds me of this incident not too long ago reported in Milpa Alta of Mexico City where a bunch of people tried to lynch some dude and the police had to fight the crowd off to stop it from happening.

So sometimes the police do act "more formally" in trying to stop "mob justice."

"Informal justice."

For more on lynching in Latin America, check out this article I wrote here.

But, like I said, sometimes the police engage in "informal justice" also to resolve an issue or make a shithead pay for his crime.

Let's get into that.

The Pedo at Cuatro Caminos

I'm pretty sure I briefly mentioned this story somewhere on my blog once but let's revisit it.

Basically, I was living near Cuatro Caminos of Mexico City when I noticed a crowd of people kicking the living shit out of some random dude.

From what I gathered, the dude was caught doing some inappropriate shit with a very young girl in public.

Next you had not just a group of civilians kicking the shit out of him but the police also.

They basically let the dude be turned into a bloody Pinata before throwing him into the back of the police vehicle and driving away (with some angry civilians still pursuing the vehicle and throwing some last minute shit at him).

Kicking the Shit out of a Drunk Driver

Similarly, this also happened in Mexico City.

To keep it short, you had some major accident in the north of the city not too long ago where a drunk driver smashed his vehicle into another one.

Quickly enough, one of the vehicles had a fire from the incident.

Meanwhile, the police showed up and get talking with all of those involved.

A huge crowd formed watching the incident from some distance.

And, to be fair, I don't know what the drunk driver said to the police.

But he was clearly drunk and clearly having some attitude.

He ended up spitting though on one of the cops and the police didn't take that kindly.

They started pushing him back, grabbed him by the neck and walked over some minor distance away to another spot.

Still within view of everyone though as they didn't walk far.

And they began kicking the living shit out of him.

They didn't kill him though.

Just kicked the shit out of him.

Which seems fair.

For one, he spat on them.

Second, he's a drunk driver who caused an accident.

Sometimes a little bit of an ass kicking is necessary.

Taking the Coomer Away

This is a story I mentioned also a few times on my blog so I'll keep it brief here.

Basically, you had a random chick who was using the metro in Mexico City.

Some random dude sitting across from her began masturbating with his dick out while looking at her.

She took pictures.

Then she contacted the first officer she found at whatever metro station with the guy on the scene and they took him in the moment.

Despite having pictures of this dude, it was supposedly not enough to charge him.

Or, at the very least, the police told her that "it would be very expensive and lengthy to bring him to court. We discourage you from pressing charges."

But then they told her that they can "take him away" to kick his ass in some other location.

To which, from what I can only guess as I wasn't there, they did and he got his ass kicked.

Sending a Message to a Thief

Finally, there was a story I remember being told when I was in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

I had a old friend named Sebastian that was from Colombia.

From what I remember, he was from somewhere in the south of the country.

I know he spent some a bit of time in Pasto but I think he was originally from a small town known as Pitalito actually.

Anyway, while he was living in Colombia before arriving to Argentina, I remember him telling me a story about the police in his part of the world.

The basics of it were that he was living in a shared apartment with some neighbors.

And they were all on good terms with each other.

Anyway, he must've left his door unlocked or whatever when he left the apartment to spend the weekend with an ex-girlfriend of his one time.

And, when he got back, he found that his laptop was missing.

Obviously, his roommates were the first ones to be suspected but he stopped suspecting them after some conversation with both of them.

He ultimately concluded that it must've been one of the friends of a neighbor because they held some apartment party while he was gone that same weekend.

Or, at the very least, that's what he thinks happened.

Obviously, the exact details of how someone got in there, took a laptop and walked out with it are not very clear.

All he knew that there was a mini party, various people were there that he didn't know personally and his laptop was gone.

So you'd think that'd be the end of it, no?

Tough shit, right?

After that happened, he told me that he managed to get a cop to get on it and actually offered a bribe to him to pursue it.

However they pulled it off is a big mystery to me though. I don't have all the details.

You'd think the thief would have sold it for cheap quickly but I guess he didn't get around to that quickly enough.

And Sebastian got his laptop back because the cop somehow managed to figure out -- among the small group of people who were at the event -- who stole the laptop.

But it came with a little threat included.

Apparently the dude who stole it was given a warning "give it back or we're taking you away."

Now, to be fair, I didn't ask Sebastian what he meant by that.

Was the cop going to kill him or just kick his ass?

Regardless of what the threat was specifically, the dude gave up the laptop apparently.

Got his ass kicked too? I don't know.

But he did get threatened.

And that's that.

Final Thoughts

Outside of these incidents, I have heard other stories as well from other expats that have been around to other countries.

Based on some of them, part of me has wondered how likely a cop would take things "informally" to punish a criminal and/or deter future crime in areas with high tourism value?

Just a question I've pondered over the years when thinking about this topic.

I don't know personally if they are told to be more "informal" in areas with high tourism value but I do know that generally Latin Americans like protecting the image of said areas to keep the money flowing in.

So, if you are a foreigner in such an area, you might have some luck with a specific cop who might help you out.

Or, perhaps more likely, you might get told to kick rocks as maybe the cop was in on whatever scam that fucked you over.

Because, to be fair, there is a negative to the informality also.

Said cops can also get away with more abuse of power, stealing your shit, demanding a bribe after accusing you of a crime you didn't do, etc.

Like what you see here with Mexican cops playing a role in the infamous case of the 43 students of Ayotzinapa disappearing.

Truth be told, I don't see the "informality" of cops to generally be a good thing because the amount of corruption tends to outweigh quite heavily the positives.

And, if we're being honest, your average gringo doesn't benefit from cops kicking the shit out of folks doing sketchy shit like drunk driving and all.

Though, when it comes to bribing your way out of shit you did do (like the gringo who gets caught smoking pot), then one could argue that's a benefit.

However, you do have "follow the rules gringos" and some Latin Americans who bitch about gringos bribing their way out of trouble (saying they promote corruption).

Well, it is what it is.

Personally, I do see some benefits to the informality of police here: bribing your way is better than being thrown in jail when you did break a law and also I have no problem with cops kicking the shit out of those who deserve it (pedos, thieves, etc).

Anyway, that's all I got to say.

Got anything to add?

Drop a comment below.

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Thanks for reading.

Best regards,


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