Mexican authorities seize 10,000 gallons of tainted alcohol

If you’re traveling to Mexico soon and plan on enjoying a few margaritas while you’re there, you should read this first.

Mexican authorities recently seized 10,000 gallons of illicit alcohol from a manufacturer after sweeping through 31 restaurants, resorts and bars in Cancun and Playa del Carmen suspected of serving the subpar liquor.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, two of the businesses were suspended for “unsanitary alcohol.”

The name of the alcohol manufacturer of the has not been released. The mass-confiscation comes after the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert warning citizens about the possibility of tainted or substandard alcohol being served at tourist destinations in the country.

margarita photo
Getty Images | Paras Griffin

The travel alert and subsequent removal of tainted alcohol were the result of several high-profile incidents tied to alcohol consumption at Mexican resorts.

Abbey Conner, a 20-year-old Wisconsin woman, was found unresponsive in the pool at the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar in January after drinking tequila shots from the swim-up bar. After being hospitalized in Mexico, she was transported back to the United States, where she ultimately died. Although her blood alcohol was three times the legal limit, her family thought there was more to the story and believes her death was due to contaminated liquor.

After Conner’s story went public, other Americans came forward to describe passing out or falling extremely ill after drinking small amounts of alcohol at Mexican resorts.

Riu Tequila pool
Flickr | wallygrom

The lobby bar at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya resort in Playa del Carmen was one of the businesses shut down (due to sanitary conditions); the other a Fat Tuesday bar in Cancun.

Conner’s family feels that the crackdown is the first step in ensuring that a similar tragedy does not happen to another family.

“This is awesome; this is huge,” Ginny McGowan, Conner’s mother, told the Journal Sentinel. “It’s needed. There is obviously stuff going on that needs to be cleaned up and looked into further. They need to investigate and interview employees. This makes sense. This needs to happen.”

For their part, the resort says the closure was not because of tainted alcohol.

“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 several days so that this bar’s operations can be fully restored,” read a statement from a spokesperson for Ibersotar Hotels & Resorts.

Correction: Article updated on 8/23/17 to correctly identify the hotel that houses the lobby bar that was shut down due to sanitary concerns. It’s the lobby bar in the Iberostar Paraiso Maya not the lobby bar in the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar. We regret the error.