Just a few days before the 2023 Holy Week and Easter holiday season begins, foreign travelers have documented acts of extortion by the Mexican Army, National Guard, and police in Puerto Vallarta, Guadalajara, and other Mexican tourist destinations.

Federal authorities recognize that reports of abuses against civilians increase during the main holiday seasons (Easter and Christmas), so they make telephone numbers and social networks available to those affected. Data from federal authorities acknowledge that, in holiday seasons, complaints for abuses against compatriots or tourists visiting the country increase by up to 40%.

In the case of the Army, several of these abuses have been reported in the air terminals of Jalisco, such as the Miguel Hidalgo International Airport in Guadalajara and the Gustavo Díaz Ordaz de Vallarta, where people are retained to check their suitcases. If they detect any product that seems new, people are withheld under alleged tax crimes.

Manuel Escamilla from Los Angeles said, “They told me that they were stopping me because I had a lot of suitcases. I told them that they couldn’t stop me for that, that if the airline didn’t say anything, well, they wouldn’t have a reason, either. That made them angry, and they took everything from me. They asked me item by item if it was documented. They wanted me to pay a thousand pesos to a superior in exchange for letting us out. We arrived at three in the afternoon, and left after six.”

Another point of complaint is on the highways, where it is reported that National Guard troops are arbitrarily stopping vehicles with foreign license plates.

Eduardo Romo, a resident of San Francisco, said, “I have come to see my mother. They stopped me because the license plates of the car are from California. (…) I have a Temporary Vehicle Import Permit, but even so, they asked me for a thousand pesos in exchange for not taking the car. Well, I’d better give it to them. We were in the middle of nowhere, and we brought the children.”

But the problems are also reaching tourist destinations. In the case of Puerto Vallarta, there have been complaints of extortion against tourists caught smoking in public spaces, and taking refuge in the reforms to the tobacco regulation, but they have also denounced a campaign against users of rented vehicles. In this case, the police advise drivers they are taking the cars, or the driver needs to pay them money.

Aurelio Funier from Pennsylvania said, “I told them no, that I was just going to leave the vehicle, and that I was not going to give them anything. They threatened me, and asked for my identification. Finally, I ended up giving them two thousand pesos to get out of the problem.”

When contacted by media, both the federal authorities and the Vallarta Police declined to comment.

Despite these incidents that occur at the national level, authorities lack databases and records of reports on abuses perpetrated by officials.