Jacob Jones, Daily Evergreen (Washington State Univ.), March 19, 2007
A 21-year-old WSU student returned early from vacation in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with a terrifying tale.
Senior economics major Andrew DeLorenzo said he was finishing up a night of drinking with six friends at a downtown Puerto Vallarta club on March 12 when he was seized by Mexican police officers. DeLorenzo said he was then bound, robbed and abused for more than 12 hours.
DeLorenzo and six friends flew into the city on March 11 for spring break. He said they finished up their first night in the city outside a club on the downtown boardwalk at about
3 a.m. the next day. The group drank heavily throughout the night getting “trashed,” he said.
His friends were blackout drunk, he said. So as the least intoxicated one of the group, DeLorenzo said, he stepped away from his friends to ask a group of six or seven officers about taxi service back to their hotel.
DeLorenzo said uniformed officers told him he was under arrest, handcuffed him and put him in the back of a beat-up truck. He said he expected the officers to ask him for a bribe.
DeLorenzo said officers did take him to what appeared to be a doctor’s office, but his injuries were the result of how officers treated him. He said officers beat him with a weighted sock and struck him repeatedly. He said officers also demanded, in limited English or Spanish, the approximately $60 he had with him and personal information including his bank account PIN.
Meanwhile, his friends had gone back to their hotel and assumed DeLorenzo was busy with either trouble or a girl, he said. After two or three hours and a shift change of police officers, DeLorenzo tried to escape by hitting one of the officers. The officers then beat and restrained him, he said.
“My legs are all scratched up from them dragging me,” he said.
DeLorenzo said individuals in the office then attempted to break his arm and threatened to cut off his head with a bonesaw. A person at the office also injected him with an intravenous solution, but missed the vein causing his arm to swell with fluid, he said.
He said he was then moved to a cell where a well-dressed man confronted him with a written confession for allegedly breaking a window and demanded his signature. At that point, DeLorenzo was able to get in contact with the local U.S. Consular Agency, he said.
Consular Agent Kelly Trainer called DeLorenzo’s family and told them he was under arrest for breaking a window. His mother, Lynn DeLorenzo, said the agent told her they could pay $1,000 for the window and get him out or they could let him sit as he waited for a court hearing.
“The easiest way for us was to just pay the $1,000,” Lynn DeLorenzo said.
The family wired him the money and he flew home early. Since then, Lynn DeLorenzo said they have tried to get the Mexican government to explain what happened. They filed a verbal complaint to the Mexican Consulate in Seattle. The consulate could not be reached for comment Sunday afternoon.
She said the family has taken Andrew DeLorenzo to several doctors to look at his injuries, including three X-rays of his swollen arm. The doctors determined the unknown IV fluid was the source of the swelling, but none of the Mexican doctors in the police reports state they administered any intravenous drugs.