Street racing seems something out of a long distant James Dean film. But on the last weekend of April, the roar of vehicles reverberated through the streets of Culiacán Center, Mexico, as sixteen luxury cars raced on the city streets.
Videos uploaded to social media by onlookers showed cars lined across the six lanes of Avenida Álvaro Obregón. They bolted through the intersection at Mariano Escobedo. They skidded past the municipal headquarters. Onlookers compared Culiacán to Dubai, which is a city renowned for its legal street racing.
The group of young people, all aged from 18-25 — with the one exception of a 39 year old — raced toward the area known as the Limit of Itaje, south of the capital. The pack had within it a variety of models including Camaro, Mustang, Mini-Cooper, Ford Focus RS, and Audi, among others. Drivers of Mustangs were popular as they blew donuts for several minutes.
Social media reveled in the racing, with many postings including pictures, videos, criticism, and commentary. While drag racing in Culiacán was common as recently as ten years ago, the locations were more remote or even situated in abandoned areas. The cars were of a wider model variety, and the races ended quite quickly. Saturday’s street racing, which involved higher end cars and public exposure, was much bolder.
According to the newspaper El Universal, the street racing group was eventually detained by military and municipal agents in an area to the south of the city known as Limita de Itaje. The Culiacán Secretary of Public Security and Transit acknowledged that 35 people were arrested, with 10 minors in the pack.
Reports differ about how the authorities were alerted to the incident. Some say that calls came into the 911 emergency line. However, no resulting report was filed by the officers on duty at the municipal offices. Others say that the officers tracked the vehicles through security cameras along the route from the downtown area. Online commentary poked fun at local authorities, suggesting that the street racing only became known by authorities after videos were uploaded to Facebook, rather than by particular investigative insights on their part.
Those who were arrested appeared in administrative court, where they were charged under the Bando de Policía y Buen Gobierno/ Police and Good Governance Edict. This is a municipal law which covers traffic offenses. Each person arrested was fined $21, and, according to Culiacán police spokesperson Omar Ortega, all were released by Sunday. Some stayed in jail overnight in what amounted to a 12-hour detention, while others paid the fine. Parents of the four minors were also fined, which Ortega said was the direct result of the parents’ participation as their children engaged in the street racing, peeling out, and blowing donuts.
The cars involved in the street racing, which have been valued at between $32,000 – $36,000, were impounded. Release of the cars will require payment of an additional fine.