Fifty Citizens Stand up Against Crime in El Centenario

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By Susan Fogel
There has been a crime spree in El Centenario and El Comitan. The residents are shocked that their little piece of paradise at the back of the bay should have these troubles.
A group of about 50 Mexicans, Canadians, and Americans were angry and frustrated with the lack of police action. Because of the size of the group, the meeting was held in the street in front of an attorney’s office. People were courteous and constrained, but fear and concern led the day.
Claudia Capistan Salgado, a young attorney with an office in El Centenario, arranged a meeting with the citizens of El Centenario and El Comitan and the new police Commandante, José Luis Amador Olachea and the Delegado, Marco Antonio Garcia.
The subject at hand: the recent crime spree in these areas and what solutions the police had to offer. People have been robbed while they were in their homes, sometimes at night, sometimes during the day. On four occasions, the victims saw the criminals and were able to identify them. One family had an ATV removed from a closed and locked trailer. This robbery was choreographed by an organized group. The other break-ins appear to be committed by one or two lone robbers on foot. One person was robbed at knife point.
Amador was asked some tough questions. Always prefaced with “con respeto” (with respect), the translator asked him questions or made statements like: “We believe the police know who is doing this and don’t care to act.” “We believe the police are in on it.” Amador calmly answered the questions. He said they do have serious suspects, but without more proof, they cannot act. He went on to say that there is only one police pickup truck for the entire area of El Comitan, El Centenario, and Chametla.
When asked if homeowners could protect themselves with force, like a baseball bat, Amador said, yes. And the inevitable question of guns, tazers, and pepper spray came up. Foreigners with an FM 2 or FM3 may own a gun purchased in Mexico with a proper permit. The new gun owner will be given a 24–72 hour pass to carry the gun home. At no time is the gun to be used outside the home. The consensus among the police is that once it is known that homeowners have guns, they will want to steal the guns, and use them against you. And once it is known that homeowners have guns, the robbers will come with weapons.
It is important to file a report with Ministerio Publico, but that is something you do after the fact and usually during business hours. While the emergency call service 066 is the appropriate number to call, Amador said that he has put a special chip in a phone that will be available 24 hours. Like the 911 system in the US, this phone can track the location of the caller. And thereby offering a response time shorter than 20 minutes. This is the special number for El Centenario, Chametla, and El Comitan 612-124-6409. He also said that by the end of the day, he would have a memo posted at the Delegado’s office and in Attorney Capistan’s office with an additional number that will go directly to him. And a list of things to do in case of a crime committed against you or a neighbor. Additionally, he will make some recommendations for securing your homes. The info will be distributed by the neighbors to ensure that everyone has this information.
Delegado Garcia has arranged for five people to meet with La Paz Mayor Estela Ponce at 9:00 a.m. on Monday. The agenda will include better police coverage, among many other issues.
The El Comitan email service will be expanded to include the El Centenario–Chametla area. This way, neighbors can help neighbors. For the most part, progress was made. But no one was 100% satisfied. As the saying goes, poco a poco.
Susan Fogel is the broker/owner of She blogs about life in Mexico at
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