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cookj5

Oct 4, 2009, 12:01 PM

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Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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The story below was sent by a friend who just traveled through Monclova, a small city on Highway 57 several hours south of the Piedras Negras border crossing. I am posting this so others might be alert to the speed trap he encountered and was almost arrested at. You might consider an alternate route if you are heading this way.

"Well, we're finally home....after 4,578 miles and a few interesting experiences...

First of all, while still in Mexico, we had an encounter that made me exceedingly angry, but, at the same time, very sad... As most of you know, I am a great fan of Mexico...Paulette and I have become super ambassadors for the country and have constantly explained, to our friends in the US, that the media has greatly distorted the crime and violence in Mexico...It is a wonderful country full of wonderful people...We have come to love the Mexican people who are, as a whole, the kindest, most honest and generous people I have encountered anywhere in the world...However, we have now had an experience that proves that, no matter where you are, there are always a few bad eggs in every batch...

About a 10 hour drive north of our home, and five or six hours south of the border, there is a town by the name of Monclova.... Monclova has a bypass road that goes around the west side of town and avoids the confusing "centro" area of the city... Therefore, all of the folks unfamiliar with the city (read Nortenos) are likely to take the bypass...

Well, it seems that the local "policia" recognize this and have created a very organized speed trap on this bypass, just for we Americans and, presumably, the Canadians as well...

Just a few minutes on the bypass we passed a police pick up truck sitting on the left side of the road.. I checked to be sure I was under the speed limit and thought nothing more about it...that is until the pick up truck pulled up behind me with lights flashing..

The policeman asked for my license and told me I was speeding (which, of course, I wasn't)... I protested, but to no avail... Then he told me the fine was going to be $1,800 pesos (about $150 dollars US)...This is absurd.....The normal fine for speeding in Mexico is about $12 US.. So, I told him that was totally out of the question...I was sure we could work something out, but that I would like for him to return my drivers license (it is illegal in Mexico for a policeman to keep your license)..

He refused to return my license, so I took out my cell phone and told him I would call my attorney (abogado) back in Chapala.. At this point he very quickly returned my license and told me the fine was now reduced to $500 pesos ($40 dollars US) and that he would take it to the police station for me (read bribe).. I shoved $300 pesos in his hand.. he smiled, said "Gracias", and drove away..

I got back in the car, drove another 100 yards and saw another car, with a Texas tag, pulled over... I figured this out pretty quick and told Paulette we were, obviously, in a speed trap situation.. so, I was damned sure I was going to obey all the laws...and I did...I drove under the speed limit and was very careful to note that there were no traffic lights and only one stop sign...

Another half mile ahead on the bypass we crossed a railroad track, with the stop sign mentioned above, and two (2) police pick up trucks sitting on the side of the road.. I, of course, came to complete stop and proceeded down the road below the speed limit... The speed limit was 80 kpm (about 50 mph) but suddenly dropped to 30 kph (18 mph).. I slowed to 18 mph, much to the distress of the five or six Mexican cars behind me, who zoomed past me without any regard to the speed limit whatsoever.. and then, guess what.. Behind all of those speeding cars that passed us was one of the police pick up trucks that had been at the railroad crossing... who pulled us over...

To say I was pissed is a gross understatement... This time I refused to give him my license, but was told that I had run a "yellow" traffic light.. I told him there were no lights, yellow, red, green or otherwise...and that I wanted to see the light.. so he had me follow him back... beyond the railroad crossing where he had been sitting... We never did come to a traffic light and even if there had been a light, he couldn't have seen me from where he was sitting... so I pulled over..

He turned around and came back and told me to forget the light, but now told me that I had been speeding.. which was, of course, another lie... But, for $200 pesos he would let me go... I was angry, but wanted to get the hell out of there..so I gave him the $200 pesos... Then, as soon as I handed it to him, his boss (jefe) drove up...So the bastard threw the $200 pesos back at me and proceeded to tell his boss that I had tried to bribe him...I was ready to kill someone...

Meanwhile, another police vehicle arrives (3 trucks, 6 cops.. all wearing tee shirts...no names, no badges and no badge numbers).. I raised the window on the car, locked the doors and, this time, while the head guy was banging on the window, I actually did get in touch with our attorney back in Chapala... I explained to her what was happening and, finally, lowered the window and handed the phone to the head cop...

After a 10 minute conversation, he came back, handed me my phone and proceeded to give me a lecture on the evils of bribes and corruption (some nerve, eh ?) Then he said that we were free to go...

I called my attorney back a few minutes later and found out from her that he was planning to hand cuff me and take me to jail.... She told him to go right ahead and take me to jail, but she was going to call the Governor of the state (whom she happened to know) as well as the US Embassy in Monterrey... That's when he suddenly changed his mind and decided to let us go...I guess he thought that too much attention from the higher authorities would put a stop to their little game...

Now, the main reason I decided to tell all of you this story is not to point out the rampant corruption in Mexico, but, quite the contrary, to point out how rare it is....Paulette and I have been traveling (driving) in Mexico for twenty five (25) years or so and have never before had an incident like this.. Oh, we've been stopped for speeding or an improper turn (and we were actually guilty) but in every case we had a friendly cop who would either let us go with a warning or perhaps would accept a small "tip"...

In spite of the story above, please don't believe that all of our brothers down south are crooks.. they are not.. and I am refusing to allow this one incident to destroy my high regard for the Mexican people as a whole..."



mexliving

Oct 4, 2009, 2:20 PM

Post #2 of 17 (15152 views)

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Re: [cookj5] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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sorry to hear about your negative situation with the local police in that town..... thanks for posting so others can route their trip from that area.


its a common problem what you went through. i dont like hearing these type of stories from tourist driving through mexico but it does happen and i simply try to accept it...... the wages down in mexico are very low and one should expect and plan for these situations....

for all reading this post..... be calm..... listen and dont argue with the officer pay the fine and keep going.


Carron

Oct 4, 2009, 4:32 PM

Post #3 of 17 (15132 views)

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Re: [cookj5] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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Which is exactly why we do all of our Mexico driving in our engine-perfect, totally bunged up exterior, 1983 Chevy pickup. As long time residents of the state of Coahuila, we can't begin to tell you how many check points and inspection stations we have simply been waved through. It's a wonder the local missionaries haven't taken up a collection to buy us a better vehicle!!!


tashby


Oct 4, 2009, 6:00 PM

Post #4 of 17 (15118 views)

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Re: [cookj5] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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I read another, very well told, story about shenanigans on the Monclova bypass about six-or-so months ago. Makes me a believer. Thanks for the warning.


Altahabana


Oct 6, 2009, 3:31 AM

Post #5 of 17 (15062 views)

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Re: [tashby] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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Sounds like the lesson learned is avoid the BYPASS. Obviously some police force is targeting certain vehicles for shakedowns. Go straight through Monclova on 57 or detour and cross at Columbia or Laredo.


CRAZBS

Oct 22, 2009, 10:46 PM

Post #6 of 17 (14912 views)

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Re: [Altahabana] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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Yes, I also thought I had learned my lesson. The first time I ever got pulled over in Mexico (after years of driving there) was on the Monclova bypass. I had heard all the horror stories so I was really watching my speed. Cars were passing me like crazy when I saw the lights in my rear view mirror. The cop said I was speeding, telling him that there was no way I was going over the speed limit and that everyone was passing me had no effect. He wanted $800 US!!! I gave him $200 pesos and told him if that wouldn't take care of it we could go to the station and figure things out. He took it and left. The next time I went through wonderful Monclova, I went through the middle of town on 57 and guess what??! Halfway through town I got pulled over for running a red light. The light was green for the car in front of me and green for the car in back of me but it was red for me. How does that work? I guess the California plates make them see different colors for different cars. Rolly once called Monclova the armpit of Mexico and I think he got it spot on!


Judy in Ags


Oct 24, 2009, 6:03 PM

Post #7 of 17 (14831 views)

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Re: [cookj5] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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'We've "been there, done that". Brother-in-law has "been there, done that". Last time brother-in-law who had done nothing illegal got tired of this treatment and gave them a piece of his mind. They wanted to "take him in". He told them, "Okay, come on, let's go." He got in his vehicle and left, but they just sat there. He stopped a ways down the road and talked to a federal police officer, but, of course, that's not their jurisdiction.

We hadn't done anything wrong either we when we got stopped twice--once at probably the same railroad crossing as another poster here. We got off with giving them a couple of "refrescos." That was last fall.

This fall we decided driving through town couldn't be any worse. What a good decision! Even going through some construction in the center of town, we got to the other side of the city more quickly than on the "libramiento." The speed limit in town is 60 kpm, whereas on the libramiento is generally 40. That makes no sense. So we're going through town from now on. It wasn't bad at all. Of course there's still that low-speed limit stretch before reaching town, but at least it doesn't go on for eternity as the other route does.

It's too bad the city of Monclova doesn't realize how much tourists, or at least expats really hate the town because of the bad experiences with the transitos.


Graydon

Oct 26, 2009, 8:43 AM

Post #8 of 17 (14775 views)

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Re: [Judy in Ags] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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Could it be that the "officials" in Monclova are getting a piece of the action from the Transit Police ? It's hard to believe that the amount of bad press and complaints are not being heard by the "higher ups"
But as you say, its a shame that the city is losing potential tourist dollars because of a few bad apples.

Graydon


Rolly


Oct 26, 2009, 9:35 AM

Post #9 of 17 (14765 views)

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Re: [cookj5] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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Maybe the problem is not really with the Monclova cops. In August Altahabana (who travels that area often) said:

"It is also quite possible that the cops who are doing the shakedowns are from Frontera, a separate incorporated town, since most of Salinas de Gotari [the bypass highway] is in Frontera not Monclova."

Rolly Pirate


Judy in Ags


Oct 26, 2009, 10:15 AM

Post #10 of 17 (14754 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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That's an interesting point, Rolly. Would whoever braves that bypass next be willing to take note of what the police cars are labeled? (Not that it would do any good, but it would be interesting to know.)

On our trip through the city itself, there didn't seem to be a great presence of "transitos". Besides that, tourists, or expats, as the case may be, don't stand out so much in city traffic as out on that lonely bypass where they feel they must drive that terribly slow speed limits, while all the Mexicans go whizzing by.


Altahabana


Oct 26, 2009, 12:08 PM

Post #11 of 17 (14732 views)

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Re: [Judy in Ags] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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In Reply To
That's an interesting point, Rolly.


I went into more detail on the other thread---How to Avoid Monclova---about what police force might be responsible for the problems people are describing. The railroad crossing that a couple of posters have mentioned is most definitely in Frontera, as is most of the Libre. Frontera and Monclova are autonomous cities and maintain separate police forces.

To repeat what I said on the other thread, I was surprised to hear that people were using the Libre when traveling through the area, because it is much farther than simply driving straight through Monclova on 57/Pape (Look on Google Maps at Monclova to see the distances involved). I have never had problems on the Libre, but I don't drive it more than 2 or 3 times a year. It is a lightly traveled road primarily used by commercial vehicles making pick-ups and deliveries at the maquilidoras and industrial plants that are located on the western edge of the metro area. RVs with US plates would certainly stand out, as would regular vehicles with US (other than Texas) plates.

There is not a heavy presence of traffic cops in my opinion along Pape within Monclova, except on Friday and Saturday nights. Pape/57 is not Mexican inner city driving and it can certainly accomodate RVs. It is one of the easiest large cities in Mexico to navigate through that I have driven. El Centro is a mile east of Pape contrary to what the story quoted in the OP.

I have no idea what is happening on the Libre and I am not doubting the credibility of any of the accounts. But I drive in Monclova much more frequently than anyone who posts here and I have not experienced any problems within the City of Monclova itself. Considering the inconvenience of the alternatives, I would suggest anyone who has not been through the area to just drive straight through Monclova on 57 rather than take the long detour that seems to be where people have trouble.


(This post was edited by Altahabana on Oct 26, 2009, 2:09 PM)


Graydon

Oct 26, 2009, 12:13 PM

Post #12 of 17 (14730 views)

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Re: [Rolly] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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Rolly.... the only problem with thinking it might be Frontera transit cops that are to blame is that Monclova is still getting blamed. Wouldn't you think that if you were constantly getting blamed for something your neighbor was doing, you might try to do something about it.

I've been stopped at both ends and in the middle of the by-pass. Some of the transit cops wore uniforms although without badges and others just t-shirts and driving beat-up pick-ups with light-bars that worked quite well.

Graydon


hollyday21

Jan 2, 2010, 5:53 PM

Post #13 of 17 (13720 views)

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Re: [cookj5] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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I have been stopped so many times in Monclova. It has gone from 50 pesos to 5000 that the police request. I have started taking pictures and I even have video of my husband in front of a police station there being asked for money and having the sim card in one of my cameras confinscated. Fortunately,I have several cameras and many sim cards!

Now a friend sent me the following email...

On 25 October 2009, we entered Mexico from Eagle Pass, Texas into Piedras Negras, Coahuila. I was driving our motorhome, towing a CRV Honda car. After obtaining our car permit, we continued down highway 57.
We were both hungry as we approached the town of Monclova and decided to look for a restaurant.

We never made it. Just as we approached the city limits of Monclova, I saw a police car behind me with
his emergency lights on. I pulled over and was asked for my driver´s license and car/motorhome permits. There were two police officers involved. One was on the radio while the other looked at my paperwork. They milled around and stalled for 5 minutes looking at things, checking my hitch, stalling, looked at each other, asking more questions. Then they let us go.

Ten minutes later we were pulled over again. This time it was three police officers. One was female. She spoke some English. She said she learned English in Texas. The same thing happened again. Calling on the radio, looking at my license, car permit, etc. This time, one of the officers asked for money in English. I said no. They stalled some more and then let us go.

Five minutes later, as I passed through a green light at an intersection, there was a police vehicle at the intersection. As soon as I made eye contact with the driver he turned on his emergency lights. As I went through the intersection he turned them off. Possibly his partner talked him out of hassling us. Who knows?

I proceeded to the outskirts of the southern part of Monclova. At this point, we just wanted out of this town. Forget about spending any money at a restaurant or anywhere else.

Just ahead of me, a police pickup had pulled over a car. I drove into the left lane and went by them at
30 kilometers. Two police officers jumped in their pickup and turned their emergency lights on and pulled us over.

This time the driver of the police pickup got out. He was a very fat police officer, wearing only a black T-shirt and trousers. His partner remained in the pickup and was wearing a uniform.

This fat police officer told me there was an infraction. That I was speeding. I politely said I was not speeding. He then said my speedometer only had ¨miles¨ on it and that the speed limit was 40 kilometers. I told him my speedometer in my motorhome had both miles and kilometers on it. I walked him to the motorhome and showed him. He continued to stall, asked for paperwork, stalled some more. He continued to say I was speeding. I continued to say I was not. He then let me go.

Overall, there were seven police officers involved. Everything
took place within 30 minutes. It was obvious we were pulled over for money. No money was given to any of them.

It is our hope that this information can be helpful for others. It would be appropriate if this information
was forwarded to the mayor of Monclova and the governor of the state Coahuila.

Ricardo


Camille

Jan 2, 2010, 9:20 PM

Post #14 of 17 (13695 views)

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Re: [Graydon] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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Every so often there's a real Gringo Bingo operation leaving Puerto Vallarta heading north. The transitos are parked on the side of the road and pull over vehicles with states' plates....the "infraction" varies. I finally resolved the situation by getting out of my truck and writing down their license number, which freaked them out completely, and when I reached for my camera to document situation further, I was hustled on down the road.
BUT... I was in an urban situation, lots of traffic going by, and I never felt physically threatened. Out in the middle of nowhere, just me and SweetPea, I'd have been freaking....
I think it's better to demand they write the ticket, it's always cheaper to pay it than pay the mordida.....and usually you get a disgusted "pass"...


sioux4noff

Jan 2, 2010, 9:26 PM

Post #15 of 17 (13691 views)

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Re: [Camille] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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Camille, that speed trap also snares many people with "out of state" Mexican plates, particularly from the DF.


Camille

Jan 2, 2010, 9:34 PM

Post #16 of 17 (13688 views)

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Re: [sioux4noff] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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Glad to hear they're spreading the joy, Sue! Haven't seen them in the last couple of months, though....At least they're on the outbound side so we can see them on our way in!
Prospero Ano Nuevo!


donemry

Jan 3, 2010, 6:55 AM

Post #17 of 17 (13649 views)

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Re: [Camille] Watch out for speed trap in Monclova

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For the gang that uses the radar speed sign, sort of by accident, I found that you can just wave back at them and then keep going. They don't follow. Worked on the Libriamento south of the big tunnel also.
 
 
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