Tijuana Police and Corruption in Mexico

Updated: Sep 19, 2020

We’ve all heard the stories of the Tijuana police.

While there may be many corrupt officials in Mexico, there are quite a few that are trying to follow the law. We were unlucky enough to get a ticket, from some very honest police officers, who did not default to the normal road-side bribery tactic.

Unlucky because we thought it would be easy just to pay them 400 pesos on the side of the road and be done with it. These guys wanted to be honest though. Not our lucky day.

Instead of quickly paying on the side of the road, for a violation (we admittedly committed), they gave us a handwritten ticket and fined us for parking on the wrong side of the street. To be paid at our local courthouse.

Many, many people drive cars in Tijuana with San Diego plates. It’s not difficult, as long as your car is registered and plates are up to date.

If you get a ticket from a Tijuana police officer and your car has San Diego plates, you could be one of the thousands to take advantage of a lacking system.

A bit of a loophole that allows you to get away (at least temporarily) without paying your fine. At the moment, Mexico authorities have no efficient way of tracking people with San Diego plates. As you can imagine, many people ignore the ticket and count on the system to forget about them.


We decided a long time ago to teach our boys to be accountable as community members, so should we just pay the ticket and be done with it?

In fact, we did break the law that beautiful summer day, by parking on the wrong side of the street. So we talked it over.

Let’s do the right thing.

Take responsibility.

Be accountable for our actions.

Set a good example for our toddlers who would never remember this moment for even a second.

The next day I crossed the border to my office in San Diego and my husband decided to visit the local judge to pay the fine. We assumed it would be a quick errand.

We’ll be out within an hour he explained, the office being very close to us, maybe 5 minutes away in Playas.

Day 1: Husband arrives with three toddlers in tow, and asks the kind receptionist how to pay the fine. Kind receptionist tells us we are out of luck for the day, the judge is out of the office.

Day 2: Husband arrives three toddlers in tow, and inquires with the kind receptionist if the judge is in today. He’s told to take a seat in the waiting area and wait for the judge. Judge never appears… after 2 hours. They opt to return another day.

Day 3: Husband arrives three toddlers in tow, and alerts the kind receptionist they are ready to pay the fine, is the judge available? Kind receptionist recognizes the same monkeys pulling on his arms, informs him to have a seat and the judge will call you when ready. An hour later the judge calls them into her office:

Judge: What can I do for you today (in Spanish of course)
Dear Husband: We’d like to pay the fine on this ticket.
Judge: Why? Nobody with California plates actually PAYS the tickets.
Dear Husband: Well, we broke the law by parking on the wrong side of the street. We think we should pay the ticket as a responsible citizen. It’s the honest thing to do.
Judge (in Spanish): Seriously?! That is so impressive that you guys are so honest. I really wish there were more people like you in our community. How about this. You give me $20 and we’ll just call it even, okay?

Lesson learned:

I’d rather pay off the officers on the side of the road, than handle a traffic ticket in office.

However, in an effort to encourage better pay for the police in Mexico and less corruption, it would be ideal to pay your tickets from the United States, by mail as they recommend.

So many people are worried about cops asking for cash on the side of the road – I just call it convenience.

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