Minutes of PM Neighbourhood meeting June 7th

Meeting of Neighbours of Puerto Morelos 5 June 2008, 6pm
El Faro Restaurant Puerto Morelos

Topic of discussion : Recent Crimes and Assaults in Puerto Morelos and What is to be done about it.

Visiting Officials:
Karen E Martin, Principal Officer and Consul, US Consulate, Merida
Lynette Belt, US Consular Agent, Cancun
Samantha Mason, US Consular Agent, Playa del Carmen
C.P. José Manuel García Salas, Delegado Municipal Puerto Morelos
Francisco Valasco, Chief of Police, Cancun
Enrique Zárate Núñez, Director of Tourism, Benito Juárez
Lic. Jorge Alberto Fregoso Toledo, Human Resources and Strategic Directions, Benito Juarez

Cynthia Castle opened the meeting, describing the topic for the evening and explained that the visitors wished to talk a little and then there would be questions from the floor. She thanked Diego and Elisa for letting us use the restaurant and Karen Martin for arranging the guests for the meeting.

Karen Martin explained that her position was responsible for consular activities in Quintana Roo, Yucatan and Campeche. She then introduced all the visitors as above and mentioned that the US Consulate also have an office in Cozumel and that the office in Playa has now been open for one year. Karen asked Francisco Valasco to discuss the recent crimes.

Enrique Núñez volunteered to translate for the Chief of Police

Francisco Valasco (Fran.) explained that what happened in Akumal is not anything to do with him as the area is out of their jurisdiction. He explained that we have a new government since April 10th, it will have only been in office for 60 days next week. Regarding the situation in Puerto Morelos where there where men in masks doing the robberies – three of them were captured in Akumal and the balance in Campeche.

The crowded clapped to this news.

Deena : could we have their names?

Fran: Delegado will have their names soon

Deena: Well can you tell us if they captured the one with the gun?

Fran: Yes he was captured

Emily: What can be done about the fact that we have no phone in the Police station

Fran: We will take care of this very soon, in one week’s time

Cynthia: Could you please let our guests speak and ask questions later?

Fran: We are taking special actions and programs to solve many issues and it has to be taken one day at a time. There is already a program to capture people who are not supposed to be in Puerto Morelos like gang members and so far this program has been very successful
Enrique: We are working with the Police and with the hotels to try and get more equipment for the Police including 2 more motorcycles.

Fran: We are working out how much is needed for the town and the beaches. With the help of the locals they will proceed with this.
Crime level is very low but we do have these unfortunate situations. But really the crime is very low. We are trying to police more at weekends to make sure people are not abusing PM or sleeping in the streets and such things.
He commended the effort of the group and said that their aim is to keep Puerto Morelos as tranquil as possible and work on the other issues like the drainage and the roads. You may not see it always but there is action on these things around.
If we can’t fix the phone situation (It’s an administration matter – needs 5 copies of everything and a birth certificate – understanding laughter around) we will get a cell phone.

Karen: So what do people do, dial 066?

Neighbours: It doesn’t work!

Fran: 066 doesn’t work to be most effective you need to dial the Police in PM direct. We are currently changing the system so that action comes from here. We heard that there was a problem and that you don’t want Cancun Police. So we are working on having the Police who live in Puerto actually work here too.

Manolo: The former administration unfortunately did not face or find solutions to the serious problems facing PM. Many of these problems have been attended to.

Enrique: I have been in PM many times in the last 2 months looking at the issues facing PM

Manolo: We are making solutions to the problems maybe not real soon but step by step. We are committed to fixing the phone problem and it is being held up by administration issues from the former admin. The crime rate has been going down. We are working together to get the Police who live in PM work here too. Not like in the past where other Police were rostered here like a punishment.

Roberto: We have formed a neighborhood watch group and after looking on the internet came up with THIS design. It says Zona Protegida, Vecino Vigilante, Alto a la Delincuencia. Vecinos de Puerto Morelos and we will be selling them and distributing them to the neighbours. To make this work we need the Police phone

Fran: we will fix this

Karen: The group’s plan to bring back the Puerto Morelos Police will also help with the Neighbourhood watch.

Fran: To help us it is VERY important that you report crimes and disturbances and any suspicious people. It is also the responsibility of the home owner to
1. Lock your doors
2. Not leave evidence that the house is empty/vacated
3. Be very careful with hiring new employees. You must do due diligence on their background. There have been many incidents in Cancun where they have run off with the household goods.

Enrique: Out of 100 cases of robbery, 87 of them involved domestic service staff. Be very careful. We strongly recommend you help us by reporting everything – we know that this can sometimes not be fun to do but it really is needed.

Diane: When the Police did have a phone I called them and the woman had no idea where the corner of Ninos Heroes and Lazaro Cardenas was, she had no idea how to come to the property

Enrique: We will look into this matter.

Frank: I have a detailed map I have created for my website vivapuertomorelos.com and I am willing to provide a good quality copy

Karen: Thank you could you please give that to the Delegado?

Diane: Also my maid told me that the house across the road from where she lives in the Colonia is a drug house. It commonly has a file of people outside waiting to go up to the little opening and get their package. It is common knowledge in the colonia.

Fran: We will look into this.

Chan: I was one of the people who was assaulted by the robbers and I would like to know how long they will be in jail, please be honest.

Fran: Minimum 10-12 years in this case because of multiple crimes.

Chan: I would like to go and see them and make sure they were the ones that assaulted us as well

Samantha: Explained about the different jurisdiction of the different Police Departments – Preventitive/PDF/Judicial. She advised Chan to contact the Judge handling the case and get a case number and follow the case that way. Here in Mexico it is very important to stay in touch with your case. You need to follow up every week with the Ministerio Publico and then every month

Fran: Said that he would provide the Consul with the photos of the robbers to make it more official

Chan said that she was Canadian and he said that he would provide it to the Canadian consul as well

Selena: Can you please close down Puerto Morelos at night?

Fran: No that would be against the law

Roberto: What about a big tope with Police like at the entrances to Cancun?

Fran: It would take 90 days to achieve that

Lynette: Cannot put gates as it is a public road

Roberto: Well what about the tope?

Fran: We will take that as a suggestion.

Deena: We have another problem in the Northern end of town . Possibly not the source of the violence but likely the robberies. The very large hotel I think is Dreams which is under construction has a lot of itinerant workers wandering the street and they have no control of the employees. They come into the site not knowing if they have work or not or not knowing if they are going to get their pay from last week or not and then they just wander back into town often without having received any money or work.

Enrique: I will speak directly with the manager of the chain about this

Deena: The other problem on the south side of town that makes people very sad when they drive past is to see the sub human living conditions provided for the workers there at the new H10, it is really terrible

Enrique: I will take this up with the manager of that hotel tomorrow

Jody: I have heard that the drunks are being picked up and having their pockets emptied and then thrown on the beach to sleep it off. What are they supposed to be doing with these people?

Fran: We are aware of the problem and we are working on it.

Selena: When I went to file a denuncio there was no-one there to take it.

Fran: He explained that this is not his area but he does share our frustration. If you cannot file here you must go to Licensiado Canche in Cancun, he handles these cases in Cancun
It is very important to go ahead and make the complaints even if it is difficult.

Enrique: Asked Selena if she would please write a written report about her frustrations

Fran: Said he was meeting tomorrow with the Chief prosecutor and will bring up this issue with him

Karen: What are the hours that the Ministerio Publico is open?

Manolo: The service is open 24 hours (huge laughter from the crowd) . It is open 9-5 every day.

Cindy/Rick: What happens if we fight back, what are the consequences to us?

Fran: The law does have the concept of legitimate defence but only as a last resort.

Karen: Explained that the law is similar to the US law in that you cannot use violent defence except as a last resort, when you have got to the last room so to speak. You cannot use self defence as an excuse for violence.
You can do some research on the internet. We have found that you are 5 times more likely to be hurt if you go after them. They are entering your property with bad intentions and you are not with bad intent.
It is also important that you keep your eye on the fine line between vigilantes and nosy neighbours. You should be nosy, be observant, notice hair length, colour, moles , tattoos, crooked noses. Watch out for strange cars and call the Police!

Jan F: You should know that this has been going on for years and years, wave and waves of crimes. Most of us in this room have been robbed at some time and we don’t see anything being done.

Cat: yes 2 years ago when the crimes were bad we met in this very restaurant with Capitan Flores and many other big brass from Cancun and nothing happened. Then he was shot in the street.

Fran: He understands that this is not a new problem and asks that we be patient while things are changing. They have already increased the number of people on each shift from 4 to 9.

Jan F: At night as well?

Fran: Yes

Sandra: We have had robberies in the past but is this violence a new wave?

Fran: Yes it is changing and it is a nationwide problem. The response in PM is same as in other parts of Benito Juarez. Compared to other parts of Mexico we have a low problem.

Fernando: We heard that one of the robbers was a Police person?

Fran: NO this is not true. We have a zero tolerance policy for Police Corruption. ( He went on to give an example which I missed as it was not translated)

Fernando: What type of weapons can we legally have and do they have to be registered?

Fran: You can have .22 and .25 calibre gun in the house with no bullets loaded, the clip magazines must be separate. It can never leave the house not even to the car and has to be registered with the Secretaria Defensiva.

Enrique: Thank you for asking us here please understand we are working on these issues. We have Franciso Velasco as the Chief of Police a position he has held here 5 times, he has a lot of experience and is the right man to ask about security.

We ask for your confidence. We are giving you our commitment to work things out.
Greg Sanchez asked me to say hello to everyone and he would like to attend the next meeting.

Karen: we are happy to be an intermediary for you to help you set up the next meeting. The minutes are important and you may want to add to them.

Fran: We will have your Police phone by next Thursday

Ana Luisa: Thanks them all for coming and invited them to feel like part of the community (all people agreed with this)

Fran: We all need to work together

Everyone said thank you and goodbye

Fernando spoke with the US Consul and asked if we could send flowers to the man who was shot. Samantha said that he had recovered miraculously and was at home and that she would talk to his wife.

ADD: next day Diane called to say that she was woken three time in the early hours of the morning on Rojo Gomez as the Police were stopping people walking in the street – by sounding their sirens and using the loudspeaker to talk to them!!

ADD 2: Apparently the drug house is well known and the rumour in town is that the Police are involved and get paid to stay away.


Karen E Martin, Principal Officer and Consul, US Consulate, Merida
Ph 999 942 5700 martink@state.gov
Lynette Belt, US Consular Agent, Cancun
Ph 998 8830272 lynnette@usconscancun.com
Plaza Caracol, locale 320 3rd floor
Samantha Mason, US Consular Agent, Playa del Carmen
Ph 984 873 0303 cell 984 807 8355
C.P. José Manuel García Salas, Delegado Municipal Puerto Morelos
Ph 8710117 cell: 998 5771740 conta_manolo@hotmail.com
Francisco Valasco, Chief of Police, Cancun
Enrique Zárate Núñez, Director of Tourism, Benito Juárez
Ph 1854466 turismo6@cancun.gob.mx
Corner of Nader and Coba
Lic. Jorge Alberto Fregoso Toledo, Human Resources and Strategic Directions, Benito Juarez
Ph 8878929 direccion.iccal@gmail.com