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Model ‘beaten and robbed by police’ feared she would be sex trafficked

4 min read

A model claims she has been "left traumatised" after reportedly being beaten and robbed by Mexican police while on holiday.

Stephanie Palomares, 27, who is of Mexican descent but lives in Las Vegas, visited Cabo last year with her assistant, Jose Zavala, planning to stay there from 28 December to 2 January 2021.

Now opening up about the harrowing experience for the first time, the model describes how she and her friend were reportedly held by local police without food or water for 48 hours after being accused of not having paid a bar tab.

Both Stephanie (@stephaniepalomares_ on Instagram) and Jose were allegedly also severely beaten.

"I went to Cabo at the end of December 2020 to celebrate New Year," Stephanie told Jam Press.

"On the night, we went to a two-story nightclub on a strip that's popular with tourists and locals, and we were on the balcony on the second floor.

"To the left and right of us were big groups of 10 or more people but we were the only group that had two.

"We ordered a bottle of tequila and paid for it right there and then.

"That's when I noticed a police car with officers inside watching and pointing to the balcony that we were on and talking amongst each other."

The model brushed off her concerns and assumed the police were simply ensuring the safety of club-goers.

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However, she claims that just hours later, the very same officers grabbed her and Jose as they exited the club.

According to the model, a female police officer slapped her across the face so hard that she knocked out one of her contact lenses, causing her to have blurred vision.

The officers reportedly then grabbed Stephanie's shoulders and threw her on the ground before "slamming" her against their vehicle.

Stephanie said: "It took us about two hours to finish the bottle, it was still pretty early so we wanted to go to another bar or club to keep having fun.

"We went downstairs and started walking along the strip when, out of nowhere, the police pulled the truck in front of us, jumped out and started attacking us.

"They threw me in the back of the truck while my assistant was slammed to the concrete floor and kicked in the face, he was really badly hurt and had trauma to his eardrum.

"I was screaming for help in English and Spanish, and shouting that we were being kidnapped but I think because of all the loud music, no one could hear us.

"They didn't read us our rights or tell us why we were being arrested or anything."

Police then allegedly proceeded to drive the duo to a Los Cabos prison, where Stephanie claims they accused the pair of failing to pay for their drinks at the club – which the model disputes.

She said: "They said that was why we were being arrested.

"To this day, we have the receipt that states the time and date that we paid for our drinks – in cash.

"The police just lied because they already knew they were going to kidnap and rob us."

Stephanie claims police kept her and Jose in jail for 48 hours without food or water and did not allow her to call her family or the US embassy for help.

She added: "I just prayed every second that I wasn't going to be raped or sent off to the cartel to be sex trafficked all around Mexico.

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"It was so terrifying as nobody knew where I was."

Stephanie also alleges police stole $800 (£582) from her bag, as well as her iPhone and Valentino sandals worth $300 (£218).

Additionally, she says they took $40 (£29) from her assistant's bag in cash and his Yeezy trainers.

After finally being released, Stephanie immediately flew back to the US and says the incident has left her scared to return to her home country ever again.

The model believes she and her assistant were targeted by the police simply because there were "outnumbered".

She added: "It took a few days for me to mentally get my mind back together again and understand that the same thing wouldn't happen to me at home.

"I definitely don't want to go back to my own country again as I don't feel safe there and the police are crooked.

"It's sad because Mexico is such a beautiful country and there are still so many areas that I want to visit, but at this point I am too scared to ever go back."

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