16 January 2020 Newsletter

Progreso Security Update

This information is current at of 3 pm January 16.

Since our last Security Alert on January 9, we have become aware of at least 20 street assaults or home invasions in east Progreso. Today Beach Area News team volunteers Speranza Avram and Karen Cloutier, along with a victim of a street assault and a victim of a home break-in met with Comandante Emilio Caamal who serves as the Progreso Municipal Police Chief. The meeting was organized by Rashid Pedro Martinez, the director of the city’s new FAST program (Foreigners Assistance Services Team) who was also present at the meeting.

We had a very productive meeting and in response to the security concerns we raised, effective immediately, there are new procedures in place for reporting to the Fiscalia, and a WhatsApp number that will connect victims of crime directly to the Municipal Police Department in the event that more information is needed about the location of a crime. We will discuss each of these new procedures below.

1) REPORTING TO FISCALIA – Mexico law is different than the laws in the US and Canada. In order for investigations to proceed, and for suspects to remain behind bars, crime victims must file an official report with the Fiscalía. This is not the same as providing information to the police at the scene of the crime. If the crime victim does not speak Spanish, the law requires that a translator certified by Fiscalia take the report at the office of the Fiscalía.

One of the major barriers to this requirement has been that the translator who works for Fiscalía is not in Progreso, but Merida, so this has meant either a long wait or a return appointment. However, today, Comandante Caamal authorized the use of different reporting procedures for foreign residents and visitors at the beach.

Rather than go to Fiscalia directly, foreigners are directed to go to the Municipal Police station first and tell them you need assistance and translation in filing a report to Fiscalía (the Police station is right next door to Fiscalía). We were told today that the Municipal Police Department has a certified translator on-site 24/7 and this person will accompany you to the Fiscalía to make your report. Even if your Spanish is perfect, it is recommended that you first visit the Municipal Police station and have this translator go with you. This will ensure that the police are aware of your report.

Below is a map showing the location of the Municipal Police Station and a photo of the outside of the building. When you walk in, go up to the front desk, which is behind solid glass. Someone will see you, open the window, and then you say:

  • “I need a translator to help me file a report in Fiscalía.”
  • “Necesito un traductor que me ayude hacer una denuncia a Fiscalía.”

Be patient as the front office staff may not be aware of the new procedure for the next few days. Keep asking them for help in English – ayuda en ingles – and they will find the translator.

We have been told that there is someone on-site 24/7. If this person is not immediately available, it may be that they are assisting someone else. If you are not sure of your Spanish, it is always a good idea to have a bilingual friend or neighbor accompany you. But this person cannot translate for you at Fiscalia – that is why you need the certified translator from the police department.

Based on these new procedures, we request that anyone who has been a victim of a crime over the past few days who has not filed an official report, to please visit the Municipal Police Station as soon as possible. Only through reporting by victims can we ensure that bad guys get caught and stay in jail.

We ask that you please do your part to help keep our community safe. Be prepared for this process to take some time, as much as 2 to 4 hours. (Bring water and snacks!) At the end of this process, the report will be complete. You can and should request a copy of the Fiscalia report as soon as it is completed. There is no charge. The report will be in Spanish. The report will have a Folio Number which is the official record locator for the report.


If you are the victim of a crime, please call 911 first. As we have mentioned before, there should be a English-speaking operator available, but there is no guarantee of that. On the Beach Area News Website, there is a vocabulary you can use to help you report in Spanish if needed. The 911 Security Center in Merida will dispatch police, and from what we have heard, response time here at the beach has been pretty rapid.

However, there are times when the police cannot find an address as described by the victim. If response time feels delayed, foreigners are instructed to send their location via WhatsApp directly to the Municipal Police Department at: 999-359-0369. If you live in a location where there are no street signs, it’s a good idea to pinpoint your home on Google maps ahead of time, so it can be shared with the police in case they cannot find you. (See example at right.)

While this number is monitored by the Municipal Police 24/7, THIS IS NOT AN EMERGENCY NUMBER!  Reporting a crime should always be done by calling 911. Please only use this number to communicate with the Municipal Police in the event that police response is delayed by more than about 10-15 minutes.


We know that these past few days have been very stressful for residents and visitors who have always experienced Progreso as a safe and tranquil place. Just a few things to keep in mind as we give the authorities a chance to catch the bad guys.

First, the current “crime wave” is not just targeting foreigners–Mexican residents and businesses are also experiencing crime — if you want to stay informed about that, just read the daily online newspaper, Progreso Hoy (open in Google Chrome and it will translate automatically). There is usually a spike in criminal activity this time of year – but as those of us who have been here a long time can attest, this does feel more intense than previous years.

Second, prevention is always better than dealing with a crime after the fact. Read our security leaflet about ways to keep your home and your person safe. As an extra precaution, women should avoid carrying large purses; even better, just put some cash and a copy of your ID in a pants pocket. Don’t give the bad guys something to grab on to. If you have to walk at night, do so in groups.

Third, if you feel the need to have some self-protection, either for your home or for walking in the street, the best legal solution is a pepper spray or foam that can be sprayed at the bad guy. Be cautious when using spray outdoors, as the wind could blow the stuff back at you.  The self-defense laws in Mexico are not the same as in the US or Canada; we will post an update on these laws in a future edition.

Finally, if neighbors or businesses wish to hire private security guards or patrol neighborhoods at night, this is permitted. But especially residents should not try to engage with criminals if they see a crime in progress. Call 911 and let the police do their job.

We will continue to monitor this situation on Facebook and through emails we receive from our readers. In particular, if you have an experience with reporting to Fiscalia under these new procedures, please let us know how it went – either positive or negative.

We want to provide feedback to the police to let them know how this new process is working. (The report on this week’s meeting with the Consulates will be delayed until later this weekend.)

Thank you – The Beach Area News Team

Bob Rentz, Speranza Avram, Karen Cloutier, Dave Bloch, and David Nevers