HAMILTON — Three Canadians are at the centre of a police and government corruption scandal in Acapulco, Mexico, after several Canadian and American tourists said they were robbed by police.
Geoff Walsh, 76, of Beamsville, Ont., a Montreal couple and an American man, said they were robbed at gunpoint by four police officers last Wednesday.
Mr. Walsh and other victims turned to a government tourism bureau to help them complain to police.
But, according to Mexican media reports, the tourism bureau official who took the complaints then tried to extort the suspected police officers of 20,000 pesos ($1,860) to make the victims’ complaints disappear.
The scheme allegedly came to light when the female tourism bureau official put the squeeze on the wrong police unit she thought was on patrol in the resort town that night.
Acapulco newspaper El Sur Periodico Guerrero says four police officers from Acapulco’s domestic police force have been suspended pending an investigation.
Mr. Walsh, who runs a roadside tavern in Beamsville, Ont., said his week-long getaway in Acapulco turned into a nightmare when he decided to leave his El Tropicano resort hotel around 1:30 a.m. to find a local bar.
“I was only three blocks away when I heard a vehicle pull up beside me, then a Jeep pulled right in front of me,” he said. “Four police officers jumped out, and pointed their submachine-guns at me.”
He said the uniformed officers, three men and one woman, told him to put his hands above his head.
“The female officer put her hands into my shirt and my pants pockets and pulled out 1,838 peso,” worth $170, he said. “They told me to keep my hands in the air, then got back in their Jeep and took off.”
While he was filling out a complaint form, he said, an American came in and complained of being robbed by four police that night.
A couple from Montreal turned up with a similar story minutes later.
Mr. Walsh said a woman from the tourism bureau took him to the police station where they were asked to identify suspects.
“A female cop and another cop were brought into the room. I couldn’t recognize either.”
Mr. Walsh said he was called back to police station that night where another female officer was shown to him. He said he immediately identified one of the officers who robbed him.
Canadian foreign affairs officials confirm that Mr. Walsh has contacted them, but would not give any further details. Officials from the Mexican embassy in Ottawa have not responded.