Mexican authorities have seized 10,000 gallons of bad booze from 31 resorts and tourist hot spots in the country, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
The crackdown on counterfeit, bootleg liquor follows the death in January of 20-year-old college student Abbey Conner from Wisconsin, whose family suspects she drank tainted alcohol at a Mexican resort where they were vacationing.
Conner blacked out in a swimming pool and drowned in shallow water.
The newspaper reports that Mexican authorities recently swept through restaurants and clubs in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Two places cited for unsanitary alcohol were temporarily shut down, including the swim-up bar in the Iberostar Paraiso Maya resort where Conner drowned.
All the confiscated alcohol reportedly came from one company, which Mexican officials called out for “bad manufacturing practices.” The company was not named.
“It’s important to emphasize that our vigilance is long-lasting,” Alvaro Perez, Mexican commissioner of sanitary operations, said at a press conference on Friday.
“We will continue to enforce these sanitary measures and will continue to be vigilant to make sure our tourists are confident that the alcohol they are drinking is safe ... and they can have a safe and healthy family vacation.”
Last month the U.S. State Department warned travelers about the possibility of tainted booze being served at all-inclusive resorts in Mexico.
“There have been allegations that consumption of tainted or substandard alcohol has resulted in illness or blacking out,” the department wrote on its website.
“If you choose to drink alcohol, it is important to do so in moderation and to stop and seek medical attention if you begin to feel ill.”
Conner’s family believes she either drank tainted alcohol or was drugged. Mexican officials have not confirmed that theory.
“This is awesome, this is huge,” Conner’s mother, Ginny McGowan, told the Journal Sentinel about the liquor confiscation.
“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.”
Conner ended up floating face-down in a waist-deep pool just two hours into the family’s vacation at the five-star resort in Playa del Carmen. Her brother, Austin, who was with her, also passed out in the water.
“We swam around for a little bit and decided, let’s celebrate with a drink,” Austin told ABC News. “So we go up to the bar, and another group that was already there start talking ... we didn’t know them.
“The bartender pours out a line of shots, and I take one, and everyone else does. And the last thing I remember was like we are right now, sitting here talking, and lights went out. And I woke up in the ambulance.”
Austin sustained a concussion, but Abbey was brain dead. She was flown to a Florida hospital, where she later died.
The resort denied serving tainted alcohol, telling the Journal Sentinel that it only purchases sealed bottles that “satisfy all standards required by the designated regulatory authorities.”
Since Conner’s death, the Journal Sentinel has found dozens of other instances of Americans blacking out after drinking small and moderate amounts of alcohol at upscale, all-inclusive resorts around Cancun and Playa del Carmen.
Many reported drinking tequila; others had beer, rum or other liquors.
According to USA Today, Mexican officials on Friday did not say whether any of their findings would lead to criminal prosecution and did not say whether they are investigating Conner’s death.
Details of a broader government crackdown on counterfeit alcohol are expected next month.
Mexican officials, according to ABC, have reported seizing 1.4 million gallons of tainted alcohol from Mexican businesses – including resorts, bars, warehouses, and manufacturers – over the last seven years.