What to do if arrested in Mexico?


If you are a foreigner in Mexico on a vacation and if, due to unfortunate circumstances you get detained by the police, with or without reasons, you should know that: the first thing is to always remain calm and always address the authorities with the greatest possible respect. Never resist arrest! In Mexico, detentions by the police are common. This is why it’s important to know what to do and how to behave if arrested in Mexico.

Whatever the cause of the arrest – traffic infraction, consumption or transportation of drugs, participation in fights, or other, the detained person will be directed to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. There their case will be analyzed, and the legal situation – a process or release will be determined. If not released, there is a maximum of 48 hours for the authorities to wrap the case and present it to a judge.

In general, crimes like driving under alcohol and drugs, getting involved in a traffic accident, carrying or using drugs, provoking a public disorder, other person’s abuse of all kinds, are considered serious in Mexico and detention and a law suit are almost inevitable.


Arrested in Mexico


What to do if arrested?

  • Do not physically resist detention.
  • Do not try to bribe or insult, or negotiate with the police agents.
  • It’s your right to remain silent.
  • Ask respectfully the reason for your arrest, if you are not aware of it.
  • Ask to phone your Embassy or consular office.
  • Ask to contact your lawyer if you have one or give their contact details to the police so they can contact them on your behalf.
  • Always try to remain calm.


What are the rights of a person at the time of arrest?

After the constitutional reform in 2011, the detention authorities are obliged to read to all detainees their Rights during a detention. It explicitly lists everything you are allowed to do if you are arrested:

  • to be made aware of why you are being arrested;
  • to presume innocence, until proven guilty;
  • to allow the detainee to remain silent if they wish so;
  • to allow the detainee a defense counsel and a translator;
  • to inform a family member or a friend about the detainee situation;
  • to promptly present the detainee’s case in front of the competent;
  • to inform the consular/Embassy office of the situation.


Police procedure during an arrest

As everywhere, any unusual behavior will make the police check your identity.

When an arrest is made, the police officers will identify themselves. It is important to cooperate. Under no circumstances do not try to escape or to use force!

The police will do a search only if they have information about a crime you have been involved in or if they suspect you in may be of carrying illegal drugs or weapons.


Arrest for drug possession

Under the Mexico’s Federal Criminal Code and Federal Health Law on narcotics, any person caught carrying drugs will be referred to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The latter will determine whether or not to open a case against the detainee. This process should not last more than 48 hours, during which the person involved will remain in detention.

There is a legal amount of drugs allowed in Mexico. In case the detainee carries the same amount or less, they will be allowed to go. If the amount exceeds the value stipulated by the Federal Health Law, the detainee will be charged with drug dealing or drug trafficking.

Drugs in the luggage is taken very seriously. If detected at the ports of arrival, the traveler will be detained immediately.


Allowed amount of drugs in Mexico

Article 478 of the General Health Law has determined the type of drug and its amount that are allowed to be in possession for personal use only.

Mind that possession will be thought a crime, regardless of the amount destined for personal consumption, in those places strictly prohibited for drugs like educational and welfare centers, as well as the police stations or the detention centers.

The Federal Health Law determines the amounts according to the type of substances allowed as personal consumption:

  • 015 mg LSD
  • 40 mg MDMA
  • 40 mg methamphetamine
  • 50 milligrams of heroin
  • 500 milligrams of Cocaine
  • 2 g Opium
  • 5 g Cannabis


The narcotics legislation in Mexico usually classifies those involved with larger than allowed drug quantity as drug dependent or drug dealers. When the amount is larger, however, this will be considered as drug trafficking.

Always keep in mind that the first things you should do and bear in mind if detained in Mexico is not to resist the arrest, to remain calm and silent, and request to immediately contact your Embassy or Consulate, to inform them about your situation.


What happens if travelers overstay in Mexico of the time allowed?

At the ports of entry each traveler is informed about the date by which they have to leave Mexico.

The allowed period can be as long as 180 days for the visitors from the Schengen Aria, for example.

Many visitors, however, decide to extend their stay in Mexico due to the good time they are having or the opportunities to visit other parts of the country that initially planned. And often they do not realize they’re committing a crime.

To stay longer than allowed, you should sign a request to the Mexican immigration authorities and wait to be approved.

If you do not have an officially signed permission to extend your stay to Mexico, you will be detained and charged.

Many tourists who have overlooked the date of departure have been caught by the police during routine documents checks at the beach, on the street, in brief, at the tourist areas.

The procedure in analyzing each such case is slow and can take up to weeks to resolve.




Are there drugs allowed for personal consumption in Mexico?

The Federal Health Law in Mexico is the body to determine what substances and how much of each are allowed for personal consumption:

  • 015 mg LSD
  • 40 mg MDMA
  • 40 mg methamphetamine
  • 50 milligrams of heroin
  • 500 milligrams of Cocaine
  • 2 g Opium
  • 5 g Cannabis


What happens if, in a borrowed suitcase, while at the airport, drugs get detected by the authorities?

In this case, a police investigation process will begin from that very moment. So before starting the trip, check you belonging and the suitcase you’ll be traveling with for any suspicious substance that could compromise you.


Can I stay longer in Mexico than I was marked upon entering the country?

If you wish to stay longer than granted initially by Mexican immigration officers, go to the immigration authorities and request to extend your stay.

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