Valley woman claims Mexican traffic cop robbed her in Rio Bravo

A Rio Grande Valley woman claims she was robbed and hurt by transito, or traffic police officer, in Rio Bravo after she refused to pay them off.

She said she wants Rio Grande Valley residents to be aware when travelling into Mexico.

Sonia Verner said all she wanted to do was visit her aunt in Rio Bravo, but she got more than she bargained for when she said traffic police abused their power.

Verner said she was traveling through Rio Bravo when a transito pulled her over alleging she she had been speeding.

"He got my license and he started tapping it on the window..and he said, we can take care of it here," said Verner.

But she said she wasn't speeding and realized the transito just wanted some cash.

"Dice, 'ay nada mas para las cocas,' and I said 'no i'm not giving you not one cent.'"

But when she refused to pay him off, Sonia said the officer changed his tone.

"He said, 'well I'm going to have to keep your license,' and I said, 'okay.'"

Sonia said she drove away, but a short distance later, the transito pulled her over again.

"The transito that was driving put the truck in a diagonal way where I couldn't move in front of my truck," said Verner.

What happened next, Sonia said was scary.

"He said, 'turn off the car,' and I said, 'why?' and he said, 'get off the car,' and I said, 'but why?'"

That's when she said the traffic stop got aggressive.

"With this arm pinning me with all his body in there trying to get the keys, and that's when I realized I've got to do something," said Verner.

Sonia said she fought back.

"He kept turning my steering wheel while he had my neck pinned down this way like this, and I kept hitting him and hitting him and hitting him until he let go and I turned on my car and I took off," she said.

Sonia said while the transito reached into her car, he ended up taking about 197 dollars and her cell phone.

It was a terrifying experience that she wants to share with other Valley residents, so that they can be careful when travelling in Mexico.

Action 4 News hasn't been able to contact Mexican police for comment, but Sonia said she's already filed a lawsuit against the transito.

The U.S. Consulate's Office responded to the above story with this statement:

"I would start by referring you to the State Department TMs most recent Travel Warning from April of 2011. In it, American citizens are urged to defer all non-essential travel to our consular district. Having said that, many Americans choose to travel without incident. We only ask that they keep the potential risks in-mind before deciding to go to Mexico.

Regarding the situation you related, it is important to become familiar with traffic rules in Mexico before driving across the border. For those Americans who are stopped by police in Mexico, try to get as much identifying information as possible about the officer. Afterwards, you should report the incident immediately to our American Citizens Services section and then make a report to Mexican authorities. Every Mexican municipality has a comptroller or internal affairs office that monitors police conduct and our staff can help you to organize your complaint. Although the investigation and prosecution of the officer are solely the responsibility of Mexican authorities, consular officers can help you understand local reporting processes and find an attorney if needed.

To contact our American Citizens Services section, call 011-52-(868)-812-4402 during business hours or 011-52-(868)-818-1507 during non-business hours"