US Gov. Gets Serious About Tainted Alcohol in Mexico

Investigation revealed over 120 incidents of tourists blacking out, getting hurt, and worse
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2017 10:16 AM CST
Stock image   (Getty Images/quavondo)

(Newser) – Following a months-long investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and criticism from both Republican and Democrat lawmakers, the US State Department is stepping up on reports of American tourists being injured and worse after drinking possibly tainted alcohol in Mexico. Since launching its investigation in July, the Journal Sentinel has found more than 120 incidents dating back several years of tourists blacking out and being injured, arrested, robbed, and sexually assaulted, often at fancy resorts in tourist areas and many times after reportedly drinking only a small or moderate amount. The suspected culprit is tainted alcohol. However, the State Department wasn't tracking injuries to American tourists in Mexico, therefore failing to identify a pattern, and Fox News reports recent travel warnings on its website didn't mention problems with possibly tainted alcohol.

Now the State Department says it will start tracking American tourists' blackouts and injuries related to alcohol in Mexico. “We are concerned about reported incidents that the consumption of substandard or unregulated alcohol in some tourist areas in Mexico has resulted in illness or blacking out,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert said Friday. She said tourists who suspect tainted alcohol should contact a US Embassy or Consulate immediately and that the State Department has "updated our Country Specific Information for Mexico to provide information regarding unregulated alcohol concerns." The change was welcome news to Ginny McGowan, whose daughter's mysterious death kicked off the Journal Sentinel investigation. “It’s better than what we’ve been hearing and getting in terms of denial and nobody taking responsibility,” McGowan says.

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