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43% of alcohol served in Mexico is produced illegally and may be dangerous, government study reveals

East County News Service

Photo:  Abbey Conner, whose family alleges she died due to tainted alcohol served at a Mexican resort

July 27, 2017 (San Diego) – The U.S. State Department has issued a warning for Americans visiting Mexico.  Since 2010, over 1.4 million gallons of tainted alcohol have been seized in Mexico. That includes counterfeit booze that reportedly contained pure industrial ethanol used in rubbing alcohol – a substance that can be toxic if consumed.

A 2015 report by Mexico’s Tax Administration Service found that 43% of all alcohol consumed in Mexico is illegal--made under unregulated circumstances resulting in potentially dangerous libations.

Abigail Mae “Abbey” Conner, 20, of Wisconsin died after drinking what her family suspects was tainted alcohol at an Iberostar Hotel & Resort in Paradiso del Mar, Mexico. She and her brother, 22, were both found unconscious in the hotel pool after drinking at the resort’s swim-up bar in January.  Both were hospitalized, CBS News reported. Abbey was brain dead, and died a few days later. Her family is suing the Mexican resort.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did an investigation and reported that dozens of others claim to have been sickened by tainted alcohol at Mexican reports, including some who have said they became ill or passed out after only one or two drinks. At least one claimed to have been sexually assaulted.  Some victims said they had no memory of how they wound up returned to their rooms or transported to hospitals.

The U.S. State Department is warning travelers to get medical help immediately if they feel ill after drinking alcohol in Mexico and to immediately contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Limiting alcohol use to at most moderate consumption is also advised.

Mexico, which shares an international border with the U.S., is the most popular destination for American travelers.

Iberostar Hotels and Resorts told CBS News they "only purchase sealed bottles that satisfy all standards." 

More than one of Iberostar’s facilities have been involved in cases of tourists becoming suddenly and violently ill after consuming allegedly tainted alcohol.  Other hotels and resorts in various parts of the country have also has instances of reportedly tainted or counterfeit alcohol sold to unsuspecting visitors.

The State Department has also warned that some hospitals are engaging in price-gouging when treating stricken tourists, and urged visitors to get an estimate of costs up front.