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Are Private Investigators Legal in Mexico? What You Need to Know.

In popular culture, Private Investigators are seen as secretive individuals who trespass on property to find evidence or take pictures of someone inside their home. But in reality, this is very illegal and something a PI should never do. If you’re thinking about hiring a PI to investigate possible illegal behavior, you should consider understanding what a Private Investigator in Mexico can or cannot do.

The Mexican Government & Private Investigators

Mexico has long put into effect regulations that those who offer private security services and detective services must abide by. The Official Journal of the Federation (Mexico’s main official government publication) published a legal agreement back in 1992. This publication stresses the importance of differentiating between Mexico’s law enforcement and private security and detectives.

Furthermore, Mexican PIs cannot claim they are law enforcement, nor perform actions that fall under the jurisdiction of the Mexican Police. Impersonation of the police also falls under this.

When conducting investigations, A private investigator must comply with law and human rights regulations. They may not act in a discriminatory or violent manner and must respect the rights of the people involved in their investigation.

The Mexican Government understands that Private Security and Investigation Services can be a legitimate and useful service that promotes the prosecution of crimes, provided that it does not interfere or take over actions that only law enforcement or the judicial system can take. 

Now with all that out of the way, let’s look at what a PI has the Legal Right to do. 

Legal Rights of a Mexican Private Investigator

private investigator gathering public information

If It’s Public Information, Private Investigators Will Use It. 

A private investigator has the right to access public information, as long as it is not confidential or protected by law. This means that they can obtain information from public records, such as the National Population Registry or the Public Property Registry. You can also imagine how easy it is to find information on someone’s social media, public newspapers, etc. Most of this process is done through utilizing Open Source Intelligence Tools.

Public information can also mean interviewing potential witnesses such as family members, friends, or coworkers. Private Investigators can lie about who they are to get information out of them, as long as they aren’t impersonating law enforcement or trespassing in the process of doing so (such as wearing a badge and uniform). These are mostly “boots on the ground” operations or fieldwork. 

A Private Investigator will not hack into someone’s cell phone or social media accounts. They will also not trespass on property to find confidential information, no matter how important you think it is.

Legal Example 1: To conduct an asset tracing investigation, a PI can access Mexico’s Public Property Registry to find information on a real estate property.

Legal Example 2: A U.S. based company suspects an employee of taking advantage of worker’s compensation for an injured knee. To conduct a Medical Insurance Fraud Investigation, a PI can find pictures and videos on social media of this employee injuring themselves outside of work or enjoying a hiking vacation in Mexico. If nothing is found, they can go through past medical records, background checks, for any past inconsistencies and alarming behavior. 


Public Areas are Open for All to See, Including PIs

A private investigator has the right to conduct surveillance and follow their subject, as long as this is done in public places and does not invade people’s privacy. In addition, he/she must comply with specific rules to prevent his/her work from becoming harassing or intimidating.

Legal Example 1: You want to know if your spouse is cheating. If so, a possible divorce is imminent and you need all the information you can get. You hire a PI to follow your spouse when they leave your home. The spouse is with their coworker at a restaurant. The PI can eavesdrop on their conversation, take pictures, and follow them in a vehicle or on foot, but cannot record nor follow them into places of expected privacy such as a hotel or into their homes.


Concerning Firearm Usage, Protection, and Arrests

A private investigator has the right to protect his personal and work equipment, especially in situations of risk or danger. He may carry weapons under the regulations of the law and have the necessary security measures in place to perform his work. Now, some people think that a Private Investigator can make a citizen’s arrest. That is true, in fact, any private citizen of Mexico can. However, it is rarely ever done and not recommended

The law on citizen’s arrest in Mexico is found in Article 16 of the 1917 Constitution of Mexico. It states that any person may arrest a criminal found in “flagrante delicto” or caught red-handed committing a crime. Once the arrest is made, the person must immediately take the arrested person to the nearest civil authority. They will be brought forth to the Public Prosecution Service. If the person making the arrest fails to do so (in this case the Private Investigator), they may be liable for false imprisonment.

Again, It is important to note that citizen’s arrest is a rarely used legal remedy in Mexico. The Mexican police are generally responsible for making arrests, and they are not likely to appreciate a citizen interfering in their work.

The Investigation Report Made to You (The Client)

A private investigator must provide a detailed and truthful investigation report to his client. This report must contain all the information gathered during the investigation and the investigator’s conclusions and recommendations. 

Although this list does not cover all scenarios, we hope you have a better picture of what Private Investigators are allowed to do. Considering how delicate this work is, you need the best private investigators in Mexico. GrayCat PI can and will carry out effective private investigations on your behalf. Our independent investigators and legal professionals are registered in Mexico to offer professional commercial services in Investigation, Protection, and Law. We offer an extensive list of investigative services, everything from Infidelity Investigations to Asset Tracing. Send an inquiry through our email or communicate via WhatsApp at +52 951 565 4804.

Alexander Guerrero is an SEO Specialist from Chicago, Illinois (Proudly from Pilsen). He began his digital marketing journey through supporting his community by building websites and creating online marketing strategies for small local businesses at 16. He is currently 20. While he freelances, he is also studying Business/Economics and juggles other jobs. He is passionate about building the online presence of businesses - especially if it's from the ground up. Learn more about him on his LinkedIn.

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