Mordida (bribery) in the Chapala area is a thing of the past, according to local traffic police commanders who addressed a small group of foreign residents gathered at the Lake Chapala Society on Monday, August 5.
“El Gordo is gone and won’t be back, so get over it,” declared Anayd Fiorella Estrada López, chief officer of the Chapala Region’s state traffic police force. The reference is to Carlos Camarena, the notorious traffic cop well-known for putting the squeeze on lakeside expats, who was transferred out of Chapala in tandem with Estrada’s designation as the new commander. Her comment was met with enthusiastic applause.
Although Estrada took up her post back in May, this week’s meeting was her public introduction to the expatriate community. She has served with Jalisco’s Ministry of Transport for more than five years, working her way up through the ranks as an agent for the state’s drunk driving checkpoints (commonly known as El Torito) and as a motorcycle patrolwoman. Stern but friendly in nature, she takes pride in carrying out her duties strictly by the book.
“My job is to enforce the law,” she stated, adding a reminder that foreign motorists have an obligation to learn and follow the rules of the road. “The best way to avoid problems with traffic police is to respect the law. Ignorance is no excuse for exemption from violations.”
Estrada was introduced to the audience by Chapala Foreign Community Liaison Héctor España. She was accompanied by two officers under her command and Gerardo Bautista Mejía, director of Chapala’s traffic department.
While their respective areas of authority differ, Estrada and Bautista stressed that the state and municipal agencies are working in harmony to reduce local traffic woes and ensure greater safety for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.
State traffic police based in Chapala cover the entire municipality along with Jocotepec, Tuxcueca and Tizapán el Alto. The municipal force operates solely within Chapala’s boundaries.
The two agencies are currently cooperating in a crackdown on motorcycle violations, noting that most drivers and passengers are now wearing the helmets and vests required by law. They are also in sync on enforcing a zero-tolerance policy against motorists who park illegally in spaces designated for the handicapped and along the ciclovia cycling path between Chapala and Jocotepec.
Estrada and Bautista acknowledge that their work is greatly hampered by a lack of sufficient personnel and patrol vehicles to keep tabs on multiple problems, including the general absence of public awareness regarding traffic issues.
Their commitment to rooting out corruption was confirmed by several community leaders in the audience who said they are no longer fielding complaints about traffic cops on the take. Motorists who do encounter such situations are encouraged to immediately contact Bautista at 331-566-3440, España at 331-065-0725, or Estrada through her office phone at 376-765-4747.