There are several businesses in San Carlos that are essentially “cash businesses”. Much of the money from these establishments never make it into a bank. Owners who run these types of businesses will usually pay their bills in cash, which means there are days when they have a significant amount of cash in their pockets. Clearly a risky endeavor. Around a month ago a friend of mine was robbed at knife point while he had a significant amount of cash on him. This was an inside job, the robber knew my friend would have cash on them and knew when they would leave their house to get in their car to go pay the bills. The police were contacted and it was figured out fairly quickly who was responsible for the robbery. What happened after that is common here in Guaymas and in Mexico. The Ministerio Publico, Mexico’s version of the district attorney, refused to prosecute the case unless the victim paid a significant amount of cash to push the case through the judicial process. The victim decided to go to Hermosillo to see if they could get someone higher up the food chain to prosecute the case. The only thing the attorney general in Hermosillo was interested in was what was the name of the Ministero Publico who refused to move the case forward with out being bribed. The attorney general was not interested in the victim nor actually interested in bringing the armed robber to justice. He was interested in the corrupt official, which is something they should be interested in yet but does not mean the victim should be forgotten about and the criminal allowed to go unpunished?
The victim of the robbery has been left with many questions. Is the ministerio publico’s refusal to prosecute the case with out getting paid because the robber in question has protection from a local cartel and thus this in not just your simple run of the mill armed robbery. This was the fear of my friend who has since left town because he was worried about possible ramifications from their pursuit of justice. How is that for ya? A law abiding citizen is forced to leave San Carlos and their business in the hands of a relative because they were the victim of a crime.
I have been very critical of the new Comisario of San Carlos becuase he wants to increase police patrols here in San Carlos. I would not be against more police patrols if the police that are patrolling are truly here to serve and protect in stead of extort and harass. And that brings us to an incident that happened to local CDM resident Charlie Woehr (CW) and what the comandante, local chief of police, pulled on him at the beginning of June. It is no secret, mostly because I have written extensively on it, that the Costa del Mar home owners association (HOA) has had it’s issues over the years and police have been called out there on various occasions. The event I am going to talk about here though seems to be different than a simple neighborly feud. Several years back I wrote an article on a dispute out there where an elderly American attacked his Mexican neighbor and the police were called. This was a pretty straight forward issue and pretty much old news. But what happened to CW, love him or hate him, is significantly different and potentially more disturbing than the previous post I wrote about.
Below is a copy of the letter in English written by Charlie Woehr describing the events of June 2nd, the day he was stopped just outside the gate to CDM by the Comandante. This letter in English has been slightly added to, Mexican Law has been sited, and translated into Spanish and has now been officially submitted to the Mayor of Guaymas, the Chief of Police of Guaymas, and the Comisario of San Carlos. The city officials have 5 working days to respond to the letter. If there is no response to the letter then the matter will be brought before the American Consulate in Hermosillo.
I believe it was Tuesday June 2 when I went to the Athletic Club San Carlos to work out. As I was returning home after working out I noticed that two Guaymas Municipal police trucks began to follow me starting from the glorieta by the Marina San Carlos and the Santa Fe supermarket. These two patrol trucks followed me all the way to the Costa del Mar, located by Algodones beach in San Carlos.
When I turned left from Manlio Fabio Beltrones Blvd. on to the road to Costa del Mar I noticed immediately that there was another Guaymas patrol vehicle that was parked on the side of the road. A person who I believe was the Comandante of San Carlos was standing in the middle of the road blocking my way and obviously waiting for me so I pulled over to the side of the road. So there was one patrol truck in front of my vehicle and two more police patrol trucks parked directly behind me at this point.
The Comandante walked up to my car and started shouting at me in Spanish. I do not speak spanish so I did not understand what he was saying to me. As the Comandante continued to shout in Spanish at me his body language was demonstrating aggression. I noticed just behind the Comandante several more police officers came into my view. There were two police officers in front of my car and I remember them clearly because they both had their hands on their weapons that were still in their holster. It was at this point that I noticed there were at least 6 perhaps 7 police officers in total standing around my vehicle.
Since I do not speak spanish I tried to ask the Comandante what was the problem but he did not acknowledged any of my repeated questions for why I was being stopped. After what seemed like for ever, perhaps 5 minutes another police officer came up to my vehicle who spoke a little bit of english. I said to this police officer can you please tell me what this is all about? Then he started to interpret what the Comandante was saying to me.
The only thing the police officer who spoke just a few words of English said to me is the following, “You are a Bully and we are here to fix that”. He said those exact same words, and only those words, perhaps 5 or 6 times. I continued to ask the police officer who spoke those words to me to please explain what this was all about. But he only repeated the same phrase. Eventually this same police officer who spoke the small amount of English then showed me a copy of an email that I had sent to my neighbor Pam Matthews. This email is 5 years old. In this email I had asked Pam to not park her car in my driveway.
While this was happening the current president of the Home Owners Association (HOA) of Costa del Mar, Hector Lopez drove out of the Costa del Mar entrance gate and pulled up across from my vehicle and got out of his car. Hector Lopez said, “I can help to interpret for you since the Comandante is a very good friend of mine”. At this point I was told I could now go but, the Comandante had a few last words for me and he told the interpreter in a very aggressive manner to say these final words to me to me. The police officer said, “This is a warning, I am not going to arrest you now, don’t let this happen again. We know you are a bully”. At that point I drove home. The president of the Costa del Mar (HOA), Hector Lopez, stayed behind to speak with his friend the Comandante.
The whole incident took approximately 20 minutes. At no time during this event was I ever shown any official piece of paper with my name on it to justify why I had been stopped. It was clear to me that the police were trying to intimidate me. It is clear to me that someone within the community of the Costa del Mar is the real bully here. It could very well be Kenneth Lee Unrein is the real bully hear. Mr Unrein happens to be the treasurer of the Costa del Mar and I was just recently informed by our new president of the HOA that Mr. Unrein has complete control of approximately 7 or 8 bank accounts in regards to Costa del Mar. Some of these bank accounts are in his name and his name only. Mr. Unrein is in control of all of the money from the Costa del Mar. The President of the Costa del Mar HOA recently told me he has no idea how much money the Costa del Mar has in all of these accounts. I recently attended a Costa del Mar home owners association meeting where there were approximately 25 members present. I was very critical of how Ken Unrein manages the money from The Costa del Mar. I was stopped and harassed by the Comandante just two weeks after this meeting. I believe there is a connection.
Here is the issue. Is this really a neighbor dispute or does this have something to do with the board of directors from the HOA trying to silence some one in the community who is speaking out against a lack of transparency by the HOA. The HOA has currently just lost a law suit on that very issue to another CDM resident. The CDM HOA meeting described in the above letter, from what I understand, was a meeting to vote for the new board of directors. CW claims that he was trying to run for president of the HOA but at the last minute his name was illegitimately taken from the list of candidates and that he would not be allowed to run for any position on the board of directors.
My problem with this and the reason I write this post is that regardless of HOA transparency and neighborhood bully’s, who ever they may be, the comandante completely violated the rights of an American citizen here in San Carlos with the way in which he handled the complaint against CW. And their in fact lies the real issue. It will be impossible really to prove if the HOA board of directors is really behind this or not. What is crystal clear though from our discussion with the comandante is that the original phone call to complain about the Bully CW came from the administrator from the Costa del Mar, Veronica Sandoval. This has been admitted to by the comandante himself and the administrator. I have sent emails to all those on the board of directors and to Pam herself to try to get their side of the story but as of now no one has responded to my request for more information.
After our meeting with the comisario last month we were informed that there are only three official patrols in cars in San Carlos at any given moment.
So what that means if I am to believe the official story here is that the comandante, in his infinite wisdom, took all three of our official patrol cars out to Costa del Mar to give a warning to a local resident that he needs to stop being a bully. All three patrol cars and 6 or 7 cops to tell a guy he better not wright any more emails to his neighbor and grow up and stop being a bully. Am I really supposed to believe that story?
A friend who lives here can not even get the Ministerio Publico to prosecute an armed robbery at knife point that happens in broad daylight yet I am supposed to believe that the comandante is gonna take all this time and resources to give a warning to a supposed bully from the Costa del Mar? In Spanish an indignant person would utter the phrase “No Mammes” or loosely translated no fucking way! This defies logic. No one will ever be able to prove that the Comandante did or didn’t get an “extra incentive” to go out there and stop CW but after consulting with our good friend Victor Parra Maldonado on this case here is how the comandante should have handled this case.
In stead of the dramatic stop just out side the gate of the CDM, with three cop cars and plenty of guys in dark blue uniforms, a simple letter should have been delivered to the house of the Charlie Woehr. If Mr. Woehr was not at home the letter could have been left on his door step. That is it. Then CW could go make an appointment to go down to the comandantes office and speak about the issue directly in a civilized manner. That doesn’t seem to intimidating though does it? The comandante has no right was so ever to judge anyone’s guilt or innocence in any manner based on any report that has been phoned into his office. He is not a judge and of course in Mexico there is no such thing as a jury. They don’t exist. By law the comandante had to to serve CW with a signed statement and the fact that he didn’t do this by the book is what leads me to believe that there is more here than the official story.
This is why our good friend and local rights activist Victor Parra Maldonado has decided to involve himself in this case. It is a bad precedent to be set in San Carlos. People should realize that if this happened to CW then it can happen to you. I am forced to remind local residents that you are more likely to have your civil or even human rights abused by a Mexican cop than by just about any other official out there. Not with standing the endless extortion of local residents for supposed traffic violations. I think to often we believe that since we live in a tourist town close to the United States and that because we are American’s that what happens in other places in Mexico in regards to abuse by the police will not happen here. This case no matter how benign it may seem to be is important to be exposed to the light of day. Local cops should not be bully’s for hire and it may very well be that a HOA that has a reputation for bullying just hired the local cops to be their own personal bully. In the Spanish version of the letter CW has requested a face to face meeting with the Chief of Police and the Comandante. It will be interesting to see what the explanation will be as to why they violated the proper procedure on how this case should have been handled. Our study of Mexican civics continues………….