What we know about tainted alcohol


Travelers at all-inclusive resorts in Mexico pass out after drinking small to moderate amounts of alcohol, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation found.

Many said they were robbed, assaulted and otherwise injured while unconscious and remember nothing of what happened when they regained consciousness. Several have died.

Those who sought medical attention from doctors on site or went to hospital said they were faced with requests for large sums of money in advance and were treated poorly. Those who attempted to report crimes to police said complex officials discouraged them from doing so and that the police themselves were reluctant to file reports.

In addition, the US State Department is doing little to help. U.S. officials cannot offer legal advice or force Mexican resorts or hospitals to do anything to help U.S. citizens.

In early June, the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General concluded an investigation into how consular affairs officers in Mexico handled cases of distressed American tourists in Mexico. Main finding: the offices around Cancun, the most popular tourist region for Americans, are sorely understaffed. The agency only had four part-time workers to help in an area that receives about 3.9 million U.S. visitors each year. The Inspector General’s office did not examine how the State Department compiles, analyzes, or shares data reported by travelers who have been assaulted, stolen, or abused.

READ THE SURVEY: Power outages at Mexican resorts

VICTIM STORIES: Searchable case database

FORM: Tell us about your blackout experience in Mexico

Sentinel Journal has heard from over 200 people since July 2017 who said they had had similar experiences. And the number continues to grow.

Here are the answers to frequently asked questions about the issue:

Q: In which cities did this happen?

A: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has heard from travelers who have reported issues while staying in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and other towns along the Riviera Maya as well as Cozumel, Los Cabos, and Puerto Vallarta. The US State Department has started tracking complaints of alcohol-related injuries in recent weeks, but authorities will not release details of where they occur. As of June 13, the agency had received reports from 29 people who feared they had consumed tainted alcohol. Search cities.

Q: In what resolutionrts did this happen?

A: There is no complete list of resorts where verifiable issues have occurred. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interviewed and received documented testimonials from tourists who stayed at around three dozen resorts, including Iberostar Paraiso del Mar, Iberostar Paraiso Maya, Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, Iberostar Grand Hotel Paraiso, Iberostar Imperial Riviera Cancun, Valentin Imperial Riviera Maya, Hard Rock Hotel Cancun , Now Sapphire, Grand Oasis Cancun, Secrets Akumal, Riviera Maya, Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Ka’an, Viva Wyndham Azteca, Azul Sensatori, and the one who didn’t stay overnight but visited the Grand Velas spa. The Journal Sentinel is investigating complaints of tainted alcohol at more than a dozen other resorts. Search for stations.

Q: When did these incidents happen?

A: The vast majority of incidents reported to Journal Sentinel have occurred within the past two years. A few, including the drowning of Nolan Webster, whose mother started the mexicovacances.com website, dating back several years. Search by year.

Q: Is there a specific alcohol that people think could be to blame?

A: Many vacationers have reported drinking shots of tequila. Others had mixed drinks, like rum-and-coke and margaritas. A cocktail called “Purple Rain” and a shot called “Mexican Flag” were mentioned more than once, but vacationers did not know the ingredients. A few people also said they drank draft beer. The Mexican government has long been aware of the alcohol problems in the country, finding up to 36% of all alcohol consumed illegal, meaning it is sold or produced under unregulated conditions.

Q: Are tourists targeted and drugged?

A: Tourists report losing consciousness, sometimes simultaneously with a friend or spouse. When they wake up they don’t have a hangover and they have no memory of what happened. Some said they felt numb and mentally confused for a day or two afterward. Those who were not affected but witnessed the effects on friends and relatives reported that the victim of the fainting had some or all of the following symptoms: violent vomiting, foaming from the mouth and nose, pallor, convulsions, seeming to die, becoming aggressive or combative, acting lost and not knowing how to do routine tasks.

Pharmacologists say that some of the symptoms resemble date-rape drugs such as GHB or scolopamine, quaaludes or PCP. None of the travelers could say for sure what caused them to pass out. Local hospitals have not tested these specific drugs.

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Q: What are the US and Mexican governments doing?

A: Mexican authorities raided two black market distilleries in February 2018and seized nearly 20,000 gallons of illicit alcohol. Over 235 gallons have been found to contain dangerous levels of methanol. Further testing is underway. Methanol, sometimes referred to as wood alcohol, is commonly used in windshield washer fluid and as a solvent. It is very toxic, even in small amounts. It is not known where the counterfeit supplies were destined.

Mexican authorities also swept 31 resorts, restaurants and nightclubs in and around Cancun in early August and seized illegal alcohol from the lobby of the Iberostar Paraiso Maya and Fat Tuesdays in Cancun. In addition, authorities seized 10,000 gallons of alcohol from a company that used “bad manufacturing practices” and supplied tourist hot spots. Mexican authorities have not disclosed the name of the manufacturer or the resorts or nightclubs it may have supplied.

The health authorities also cited the following establishments in Playa del Carmen and Cancun for lack of maintenance, cleanliness, order and documentation: Hotel Iberostar Paraiso Lindo, Iberostar Grand Paraiso Hotel, La Chopería, Los Olvidados, Mc Carthy Bar , Coco Bongo, crazy Mexico, Guy Frieri. Iberostar Hotel Cancun, Hooters, La Vaquita, Blue Gecko, Dady´O, Señor Frogs, Crab House, Fred´s House, Porfirio´s Cancun, the distillery, La Casa del Habano, Carlos´n Charlie´s. Authorities did not disclose whether the problems were alcohol-related. They did not respond to Journal Sentinel follow-up questions.

A Mexican senator said the legislative health committee would unveil broader plans to tackle illegal alcohol in September, but more than 18 months later, nothing has been announced publicly. Mexico’s tourism department has launched a public relations blitz in the United States aimed at allaying fears about tainted alcohol and promoting the country as a safe place for vacationers. Authorities in Quintana Roo, the home state of Cancun and the Riviera Maya, last year began offering free interpreters and translation services to tourists who need to file police reports.

Following the first reports from Journal Sentinel, the US State Department added information to its website informing travelers about alcohol problems at Mexican resorts. In addition, the agency stated that it now follow up complaints on alcohol-related incidents.

The chairman of the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs urges the Mexican government and the US State Department to continue the investigation. The Office of Inspector General has launched an investigation on how the department handles cases.

Q: Can I share details of my travel experience – including if I suspect I have received tainted alcohol and been injured – on the TripAdvisor travel website to warn others of the risks? potential?

A: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation revealed dozens of cases in which TripAdvisor removed reports from travelers about their negative and, in some cases, tragic experiences on vacation in recent months and years. The company says its guidelines have since been updated and reports relating to health and safety issues are welcome. TripAdvisor has launched an alert system following the investigation to help alert tourists to resorts and other establishments that have been the subject of media reports regarding issues such as health and safety. The United States Federal Trade Commission announced at the end of 2017 that it would open an investigation into TripAdvisor’s business practices. The agency has yet to release any report.

Q: Are there any tips for travelers to avoid power outages and other injuries.

A: Read the US Department of State website at Mexico travel warnings and the country of Mexico page to learn about some of the crimes and other things that happened in Mexico.

Travel in pairs or in a group. Don’t drink alone. Ask for bottled or canned beer and open it yourself, if possible. Have a designated sober person who does not consume any open drinks, alcoholic or non-alcoholic, from the bar. Make sure you have a minimum of $ 2,000 of credit available on your credit card in case you need medical attention at a local hospital. Some tourists needed as much as $ 50,000. Read the fine print if you are purchasing travel insurance. Some companies refuse to pay if you are injured while intoxicated. A travel expert suggests bringing a door wedge so that you can securely lock your door from the inside. Many travelers said they woke up – or in one case, walked out of the bathroom – to find resort workers in their rooms.

Q: What should American tourists do if they suspect they have been drugged or robbed, assaulted or injured?

A: US Department of State officials suggest that victims of crime contact the consular office of the US Embassy, ​​as officers can provide contact information on how to contact local police and how to contact local police. file a report. They can also accompany US citizens to the police or to the hospital on request.

The agency can be reached at 1-888-407-4747 in the United States or from overseas at +1 202-501-4444. In addition, agency officials suggest citizens to file complaints with Mexican government authorities also at [email protected]

Here are the contact details of the consular offices:

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