US State Department Adds Subtle Warning About Dangerous Alcohol Beverages to Mexico Travel Page

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The United States Department of State is warning travelers to Mexico about tainted or counterfeit alcohol following the death of a Wisconsin woman and other reports of blackouts at resorts in Mexico.

There is no prominent warning or alert on the Department of State’s official website. Instead, a paragraph has been added to the general country information page for Mexico under the heading of “Safety and Security.”

Alcohol: There have been allegations that consumption of tainted or substandard alcohol has resulted in illness or blacking out. 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.

— US Department of State/US Passports & International Travel/Mexico

The updated general page on Mexico, with a warning added to the “Safety and Security” section, follows an investigative report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding a Wisconsin woman’s death during her stay at an all-inclusive hotel. Unfortunately, the State Department warning only tells people to drink in moderation, while some U.S. citizens — including a dead Wisconsin woman’s brother, who also blacked out — have reported blacking out after “drinking in moderation.” Some people are also warning about possible shady relationships with resorts and health care providers.

According to the Journal Sentinel, the death of Abbey Connor, 20, after she was found unconscious in a hotel swimming pool — and following only a couple of shots of tequila — is just one of many incidents of travelers becoming sick after drinking alcohol at Mexican resorts.

Abbey Connor and her brother Austin were both pulled from a pool at an Iberostar resort near Playa del Carmen in January 2017, according to the the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Austin lived, but Abbey was brain dead and taken off a ventilator on January 12, 2017. As a last hope effort, Abbey was flown to Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida; but her brain dead condition was confirmed, and she was taken off life support.

After the Journal Sentinel report, the newspaper received numerous reports from other vacationers who said they got sick and experienced blackouts at resorts in Cancun and Playa del Carmen.

A blog Mexico Vacation Awareness has been established that reports suspicious cases involving alcohol in Mexico and other reports of horrible incidents or medical care and emergency responses at resorts in Mexico …

Report from Cate about male victim
Our son arrived on Sunday and had no other alcohol but tequila shots on Monday. He blacked out and vomited uncontrollably for hours that turned into the next day. We sought medical care from Iberosar Par Del Mar multiple times to no avail. Finally they sent him to the hospital on Wednesday. The hospital did not want our health insurance card but our credit card.

Report from Molly …
My girlfriends & I stayed @ Barcelo Huatulco years ago. While at the swim up bar we noticed our friend “Jane” was getting chummy with a Mexican couple. Before we know it she’s trying to leave with them. We were sober, only sipping cocktails. She was extremely belligerent and cussing at us that she WAS leaving. We caused a huge scene and screamed for security. We pretty forcefully carried her to our room, burrito wrapped her in the bedspread, and left her on the floor for hours. When she finally awoke she had NO idea what had happened. As far as we know she only had one shot with them. I will never, ever go to Mexico again.

Report from Patty …
My son was on spring break in Cancun and he and his friend were getting ready to head to the airport. The bartender said have a drink before you leave. He became very ill, so ill that he could not get on the plane. They made his frat brothers go back to the US without him and took him to a hotel until the next day. He said there was something in his drink for sure.

Report from CK …
I had no idea of the amount of drugging/illegal alcohol use in Mexico. I’ve always known about the crime and felt safe enough to travel to Cancun/Playa del Carmen year after year. About 2 years ago I was at the GR Solaris with my boyfriend, we had traveled all day so he was tired so I decided to stay at the lobby bar while he went to the room to relax. I ended up having a few drinks with some people I had met earlier in the day. I woke up on a bench outside, I have no memory of how I got there and my phone and other belongings were stolen. When I came to (at 5am in the morning), I ran to the front desk in a panic and they were unwilling to help me and they said I passed out from drinking too much. I know for a fact that I had not had that much drink, but we did have a shot of tequila and some beer. I told them my phone and other belongings had been taken and I thought I was drugged, they insisted that I drank too much. I went to the room to find my boyfriend, he asked where I had been and I was embarrassed to tell him, they had me questioning myself if I really did pass out from drinking. I wish I had known how common this was at the resorts, I would have never stayed out without him by my side. I found the bartenders that had previously served me the night before, they all giggled and said they didn’t know what happened to me or my things, I made them all show me their phones to makes sure they didn’t have mine (by that time it was probably long gone anyway). I found some of the people I was with that night the next day and they all said I was fine the night before, had told them I was going to the bathroom but I never came back. I then went to the front desk again and asked for camera footage and was denied, said there was no cameras at the bar or in the lobby, which is hard to believe. This was the first day of a 9 day trip, so I was onguard the remainder of the trip, my heart goes out to those that were hurt or assaulted. I think it’s safe to say that I most likely will not be traveling to Mexico any more.

Report from Susanne …
In February, 2015, I blacked out and fell, breaking my collarbone, a toe, and badly bruising my knee, after having drinks on the dance floor at a Jamaican resort. My husband and I are convinced that someone put something in my drink(s). My husband (we’d been married 21 years at the time) said he’d never seen me act like that, and we found out hours later that another woman from our group was wandering the property at 4 a.m., not knowing where she was. We reported the incident to the manager who apologized but no other action was taken.

Report from Pamela …
In November of 2010, I was wrapping up a two week stay, in Nuevo Mazatlan, MX…Pacific coast. The resort is rated as a 5 star; and, I had stayed there a few times previously. While my friends and I did venture out to restaurants, outside of the resort, most of my meals and drinks were consumed at the resort! The resort has a US water filtration system; and, while not 100% foolproof, better than many resorts! The day before I was due to return to the US (after two weeks) my friend and I had a “2 for 1 Happy Hour” peach margarita. When I took a drink, the taste was awful….the peach flavor was barely there. My friend said her drink was OK. I attributed the awful taste to the tequila…as I don’t normally drink margaritas. I drank maybe 1/3 (at most) and gave up trying to acquire the awful taste. Within, an hour or so, I had to return to my room as my stomach was churning. Once, in my room…I thought lying down would help…wrong!! I became “sick as a dog” The vomiting and diarrhea that I had was non-stop. My friend stopped in to see how I was and called for the resort doctor. She came and gave me a shot and instructions to help stave off dehydration…during this time, as I headed to the bathroom….and fainted! The doctor told me that fainting was dangerous and took me to the clinic. I was kept there, overnight…with an IV…and was checked upon by the staff. Because I was in no condition to fly back to the US, I had to extend my room reservation (yes, I was charged – the resort knew I was sick and reduced the rate by about $30) Fortunately the airline did not charge me for the plane change. Many have told me that the ice was the culprit in my drink….the ice could not have melted enough to have caused the taste to be so bad….I have always felt that I had bad booze…

Boxer’s Break
Various authorities state that a “Boxer’s fracture” means a break in specifically the second metacarpal bone or third metacarpal bone, while a “Bar Room fracture” is named for a fracture to the fourth metacarpal bone or fifth metacarpal bone.

One Wisconsin woman interviewed by the Journal Sentinel said she was assaulted while both she and her husband were unconscious — something supported by an exam done by her OB-GYN when she returned to Neenah, Wisconsin. Her husband woke up with a broken hand — a “boxer’s break” fracture that his doctor said likely resulted from hitting someone. The husband has no memory of anything that might have happened.

In at least three cases discovered in the Journal Sentinel investigative report, travelers reported that local hospitals, part of the Hospiten chain, appeared to be gouging them, and demanding large sums of cash. One man was told to take a cab to an ATM. The vacationers suspected Iberostar might be in cahoots with the medical company. The resort contracts with Hospiten and refers sick and injured guests to Hospiten’s facilities.

According to a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel report Abbey Conner’s family paid about $17,000 to a small medical clinic south of Playa del Carmen and within several hours paid tens of thousands more to a hospital in Cancun, north of the resort, where Abbey and her brother were transferred.

See also …

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel A Mexican vacation, a mysterious death, and now endless questions for Wisconsin family

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Tourists to all-inclusive resorts in Mexico suspect they were given tainted alcohol

Mexico Vacation Awareness (blog)

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