By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In shock, in fear and helpless. That’s how a Lakeville man spent his Spring Break in Mexico. Instead of the resort he booked, he was booked in a Mexican jail and still has no idea why.

The father was with his wife and high school senior a trip dozens of Lakeville families shared.  A week south of Playa Del Carmen at Barcelo Riviera Maya ended in pure fear.

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The best part of Spring Break is, sometimes, the stories.  But Evan Tweed and Tim Durst, suburban dads, never imagined they would be the ones who found trouble.

“Our deal is to have a week in the sun and a nice big vacation with a lot of people that we knew and that was our intent, and it went sour,” Tweed said.

That’s putting it lightly. It started nicely.  But as a group of parents went out for an after dinner drink at one of their resort’s bars  a scuffle broke out, a woman claimed Tweed punched her in the face. His friends say he never touched anyone.

“The scene was chaotic, a lot of people were screaming and yelling,” Durst said.

Tweed says hotel security, “Got physical, threw me down, put a knee in my back, handcuffed me.”

Then things got more intense. They turned him over to the Mexican police, took him away, cuffed and under an armed guard.

“Processed me, mugshots, strip searched me, took all my stuff, wedding ring, I never got back,” Tweed said. “It was really real and scary and I start thinking about all the stories you hear about Mexican prison and could it be really that bad and such – but I tell you, it was everything, everything and all that.”

He says he was escorted through a hallway of screaming people, pleading his innocence.  He described the scene is inhumane.

“White washed walls but were smeared with anything and everything you can think of. There was blood, there was initials written in blood and feces and overwhelming stench, I literally spent the night with my shirt over my nose,” Tweed said.

He says a woman in a nearby cell was from Eagan, also not knowing why she was arrested. Meanwhile, Tim was working for hours to try and get to his friend. Finally a taxi driver helped him find Evan.

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“The prison is everything you would think it would be,” Durst said.

Early the next day, Tim paid $180 ahead to get Evan and the woman from Eagan out.

Tweed says the resort tried to keep him out until a high paying guest talked the staff down.  He says he collapsed in tears.

“You know, that’s not a lasting memory I wanted to leave for my son for his senior break,” Tweed said.

A break that’s caused so much unrest, Tweed says, “You know a wedding ring can be replaced, but nobody should be treated that way.”

Tweed says he wants to get his story out there because so many Minnesotans stay at resorts like his, ones he once thought were safe.

WCCO contacted the Barcelo Riviera Maya several times, and they did not initially respond to our questions. After the story aired, Rafael Medina, the director general of the resort, wrote WCCO. We are including his statement in full:

“At Barceló Maya Beach Resort, guest safety is a top priority and any concerns are taken very seriously. Our employees undergo extensive training and are instructed to follow a strict protocol should a security issue arise. We also adhere to strict privacy standards for all of our guests, and like all luxury hotel brands, generally we do not discuss guest incidents with the media. However, one guest’s false and slanderous statements to local media have put us in a very uncomfortable position, forcing us to defend both our team, and the entire region of Riviera Maya.  

“In late March, our staff responded to a disturbance, in which a female American guest reported that Mr. Tweed physically assaulted her. The mother of the female guest requested that local authorities be called. In compliance with our company policy and security protocol, we are required to alert officials should a guest ask for one. Mr. Tweed, intoxicated at the time, acted belligerently and aggressively with both our staff and the local authorities, who attempted to diffuse the situation.

“We cannot speak on behalf of the local authorities as to what happened when Mr. Tweed left the premises but can confirm that our staff followed all standard protocols, including obtaining numerous written statements from witnesses and reviewing security video footage, which led us to determine Mr. Tweed would not be welcomed back to our resort. 

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“We are committed to providing a safe environment for all of our guests – and that includes reacting swiftly and including local authorities when there is a report of this nature.”

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield