I'm not entirely sure if this is the right place to ask this, but my reason for asking is travel; and travel safety (as well as sheer curiosity).
Last week I came across a clearly1 fake2 police checkpoint in Mexico, and they had me (and my two passengers) get out of the car, did a superficial search of the car, then sent us on our way.
This makes me wonder:
What are these unofficial checkpoints looking for? And the followup question How can I reduce the chances of being stopped/detained/interrogated/robbed/kidnapped/murdered/raped/whatever at one?
I've heard many unsubstantiated rumors:
- They're "only" looking for rival criminals (probably drug cartels)
- They're looking for valuables to steal
- They're looking for wealthy people to kidnap
I also realize there may not be a single correct answer to this question, as each checkpoint may be looking for something different; but hopefully a generally useful answer can be provided.
1I was an hour from the nearest town, but the uniforms all said Policía Municipal, and their vehicles were faded (police vehicles are usually very nice in Mexico), and from the state of Guanajuato, although we were in San Luis Potosí. This would be like driving through Texas and coming across a police checkpoint manned by the LAPD. Pretty fishy.
2This question is about criminals (I believe usually drug cartels) impersonating police officers.