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Long-Distance Buses and Checkpoints with Corrupt Police

Berkeley, California
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Long-Distance Buses and Checkpoints with Corrupt Police

Hello Everybody,

I will be taking several long-distance buses in Central Mexico this summer - including an overnight bus from Oaxaca to Mexico City (TAPO).

I know these long-distance buses are searched for drugs by Federal police routinely. The arrest of Yanira Maldonaldo from a long-distance bus has made me a bit weary. Maldonaldo was the American who was recently arrested and detained by Federal police for having marijuana under her bus seat. Apparently, she was framed and extorted for bribe money.

I was just wondering how common these checkpoints are and what the procedure is? If I am a law abiding American citizen - carrying no drugs and nothing else illegal - should I be a little bit worried? Also, should I be taking long-distance buses during the day rather than overnight? Thanks for any insight.

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Mexico
Mexico
North America
Oaxaca
Oaxaca
Oaxaca, Mexico
Mexico City
Mexico City
Central Mexico and Gulf Coast, Mexico
Queretaro City...
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1. Re: Long-Distance Buses and Checkpoints with Corrupt Police

First let's address the Maldonaldo saga. She was on a bus going to the U.S. which is where 99% of illegal cannabis from Mexico goes. I don't think anyone is saying she was framed by the police (it was the army that found the package). Since the package was taped underneath HER seat she was held briefly until it was decided that it was unlikely/impossible that the package was hers. In an ideal world she would have been freed more quickly but I am not convinced things would have been much different if she had been caught on the U.S. side but anyway....this was a cross-border route and not really relevant to your travels.

Yes, there are occasional checkpoints where the army search buses but it has only happened to me once in 15 years of traveling in Central Mexico. It is highly unlikely to happen and, if it does, there is no "corruption" or underhandness going on - I have not heard of a single instance of the army doing anything untoward. So I really don't think you should worry - thousands of buses travel Central Mexico every day without being stopped or without any incident of any kind. It's maybe not much consolation but you're 100 times more likely to run into the back of a trailer than have any drug-related hassle :))

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Mexico
Mexico
North America
San Miguel de...
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for San Miguel de Allende, Central Mexico and Gulf Coast
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2. Re: Long-Distance Buses and Checkpoints with Corrupt Police

I agree with Steve and, like him, have taken buses all over in the past dozen years, including the night bus to and fro Oaxaca.

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Oaxaca
Oaxaca
Oaxaca, Mexico
Ixtapa, Mexico
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3. Re: Long-Distance Buses and Checkpoints with Corrupt Police

Same here, and until recently we always had to stop at one or two checkpoints going into Michoacan with military people getting on the bus and checking the luggage compartment. We never had any problems.

Guadalajara, Mexico
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for San Luis Potosi, Zacatecas
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4. Re: Long-Distance Buses and Checkpoints with Corrupt Police

Well said Steve. Any police in the USA for example would detain a foreign national discovered with 5+ kilos of pot under her seat, pending investigation. A huge example of press exaggeration and hyperbole casting aspersions on the Mexican military & police.

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United States
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Lewiston, California
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5. Re: Long-Distance Buses and Checkpoints with Corrupt Police

In 26 years of bus travel in Mexico I have never had a problem. This includes over 1,000 K's this year.

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Mexico
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Lewiston, California
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6. Re: Long-Distance Buses and Checkpoints with Corrupt Police

PS The bus companies now do a security check on many buses of MALE passengers with a metal detector upon boarding. My wife gets a huge kick about this saying "they know who the trouble makers are!" LOL

Berkeley, California
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7. Re: Long-Distance Buses and Checkpoints with Corrupt Police

Great. Thanks everybody for your insight.

San Marcos, Texas
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8. Re: Long-Distance Buses and Checkpoints with Corrupt Police

On March 15th my wife and I and the entire bus load of passengers were stopped and pulled off a bus gioing from Oxaca city to Puebla. They lines our suitcases up on folding tables and went through each one. it was Mexican army soldiers and there were big signs Federal Drug Intradiction but in Spanish. My suitcase had those little TSA locks on it and I believe it made them a little more suspicious plus I was the only Gringo on the bus. My Spanish is mediocre so at one point I told the officer in Spanish "I have no drugs or arms only mole, chocolate and coffee". The whole thing took approx 15 minutes. They also asked me where I was from, purpose of my vist, where was I going etc. Lots of soldiers with lots of automatic weapons but there were real soldiers and they are trying to stop the flow of drugs so no complaints here.

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Puebla
Puebla
Puebla, Mexico
9. Re: Long-Distance Buses and Checkpoints with Corrupt Police

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