LAREDO, Texas – With the purpose of saving paisanos from being victims of fraudulent scams on their way to Mexico during the Holidays, authorities are enforcing the Bienvenido Paisano (Welcome Paisano) campaign.
“This bi-national program has been able to educate, prevent and protect thousands of travelers that circulate the (Webb) county during the holidays,” District Attorney of Webb & Zapata County, Isidro R. Alaniz said during a press conference, Tuesday morning.
One of the biggest issues authorities confront are paisanos being a victim of vehicle nationalization fraud.
This is the seventh year on a row that the District Attorney launches this campaign in conjunction with the Consul General of Mexico in Laredo, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, members of ALFA, and representatives from the State of Tamaulipas.
“Thousands of paisanos come to Laredo to cross into Mexico, and they seek into exporting their vehicles, a situation that many times gives place to commit a crime,” Alaniz said. “Through the Bienvenidos Paisano campaign the report of crimes have dramatically lowered”.
The fraudulent scams occur when the paisano is approached by a scam artist and promises a quicker way to get the permit to cross their vehicles into Mexico. In reality the paisano is provided with false documentation.
“Obtaining the proper permit to export a vehicle into Mexico usually takes 72 hours to process, while scam artists promise a quicker way,” Alaniz added. “Paisanos who wishes to export a vehicle into Mexico should do so according to the law and this will save them time and guarantee a legal process.”
Being a victim of a fraud can result in serious consequences, including a fine, the vehicle being confiscated in Mexico, and even jail time with charges starting in a Class-C to a felony crime fully prosecuted by the DA’s office.
Officers will be vigilant for suspicious activity in the diesel and gasoline stations, public parking lots, restaurants, and shopping centers, Alaniz said.
Authorities recommend paisanos start the process to export their vehicles days before arriving on the border by contacting their Mexico’s Consulate local office, or getting information at the Travelers Center on the 18 Mile line of I-35.
It is estimated that at least 200,000 travelers will be passing through the international bridges in Laredo, and 2.000 tourist permits will be process on a daily basis.
Meanwhile, the City of Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, has requested authorities on both sides of the border to speed up the crossing process through the Laredo-Nuevo Laredo bridges.
This border shares three bridges, but one is for commercial trade only and another one is closed due to renovations. That leaves this area with the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge at the end of I-35 only. Laredo has a fourth bridge located in the border with Colombia, Nuevo Leon.
“The idea is to designate exclusive lanes (on the Lincoln-Juarez Bridge) for tourists trying to cross to Laredo through the Juarez-Lincoln Bridge,” Mayor of Nuevo Laredo, Enrique Rivas, said.
Lane One will be for Sentri users; lanes Two and Three will be for the paisanos and those turning in their permits; and Lane Four will be for those without needing to cancel any permit.
The Bienvenidos Paisano program will take place from November 1st to January 8.