Thousands of Gallons of Illegal Alcohol Seized In Mexico

By Britni de la Cretaz 08/16/17

During a recent operation, officials seized 10,000 gallons of potentially unsafe alcohol from one supplier. 

a group of women toasting with tequila shots

Following the death of American tourist Abbey Conner on a visit to Mexico earlier this year, the U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory for the country, citing reports of potentially toxic, tainted alcohol being served at resorts.

The advisory, issued last month, encouraged travelers to take precaution when imbibing while in Mexico. Now, dozens of resorts and nightclubs in Cancún and Playa del Carmen were raided as part of an ongoing investigation and attempt to ensure the safety of tourists.

According to Newsweek, the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk (Cofepris) announced at a press conference last week that 75 gallons of alcoholic beverages were seized during the raids, as they were found to have been produced in a way that violated health regulations and could have been dangerous as a result.

The press conference also revealed that officials had been able to identify one of the suppliers of the potentially tainted and unsafe alcohol, and 10,000 gallons of alcohol were taken from them.

Aside from the seizure of large amounts of alcohol, the repercussions of the investigation have been far-reaching and widespread. Two bars were temporarily shut down for not complying with health and safety regulations, and as many as 20 more bars and hotels were cited for a variety of health and safety violations and noncompliance.

Last month’s travel advisory by the State Department warned of “allegations that consumption of tainted or substandard alcohol has resulted in illness or blacking out.” An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel—which may have spurred the travel advisory—found that, in addition to 20-year-old Conner’s death, dozens of tourists reported similar incidents that involved drinking small amounts and passing or blacking out, or waking up in hotel or hospital rooms with no idea how they got there. Connor had been staying at the IBEROSTAR Paraíso del Mar hotel with her family when she was found unconscious in the hotel pool

The lobby bar at the IBEROSTAR Paraiso Maya was temporarily shut down after several violations were discovered, including expired and unlabeled alcohol.

In a statement to The Fix, a spokesperson for Iberostar Hotels & Resorts said, "In recent days, the Mexican consumer and health authorities, Profeco and Cofepris, have carried out inspections across five IBEROSTAR hotels in Mexico, examining 43 bars and restaurants on site. Their findings concluded that only the lobby bar in the IBEROSTAR Paraiso Maya did not meet regulations and has been temporarily closed. It is important to clarify that the closure of this one bar was the result of sanitary compliance (for instance a trash container lid missing, leak from ice machine, etc.), not related to tainted alcohol allegations. We are diligently working to resolve the issues pointed by the inspector and expect another evaluation within the next couple of days so that this bar’s operations can be fully restored. All other bars and restaurants in IBEROSTAR Paraiso Maya and the remaining nine IBEROSTAR hotels in Mexico remain open and operating normally.

The safety and well-being of our guests and personnel are IBEROSTAR’s top priorities. IBEROSTAR undergoes normal routine inspections performed by Profeco and Cofepris.  In addition, external audits are conducted at IBEROSTAR hotels on a monthly basis, which certify our diligent and responsible handling of all sanitary and hygienic measures, following federal legislation, local regulations, and the standards of the FTO – Health & Safety Technical Guide, Codex Alimentarius, and HACCP system. IBEROSTAR Hotels & Resorts is a family-owned company with more than 60 years of history, welcoming more than four million guests per year at its hotels around the world. IBEROSTAR is committed to striving for excellence, seeking continuously for opportunities to strengthen and improve procedures with the objective of always offering guests the best possible experience.”

According to multiple investigations and reports, the issue of potentially unsafe alcohol is widespread and affecting a large number of popular resorts and hotels. The State Department maintains that tourists should continue to exercise caution when imbibing at these bars, clubs, and resorts.

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Britni de la Cretaz is a freelance writer, baseball enthusiast, and recovered alcoholic living in Boston. Follow her on Twitter at @britnidlc.