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Schumer: ATF Should Probe Dominican Republic Deaths

'We still have a whole lot of questions and very few answers'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 1, 2019 2:35 AM CDT
In this Tuesday, June 18, 2019 photo, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, talks to reporters at the Capitol.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
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(Newser) – The Senate's top Democrat said Sunday that the US government should step up efforts to investigate the deaths of at least eight Americans in the Dominican Republic this year. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives should lend support to the FBI and local law enforcement, said Sen. Chuck Schumer, noting the agency has offices in the Caribbean and the technical and forensic expertise to aid the investigation, the AP reports. "Given that we still have a whole lot of questions and very few answers into just what, if anything, is cause for the recent spate of sicknesses and several deaths of Americans in the Dominican Republic, the feds should double their efforts on helping get to the bottom of things," Schumer said in a statement.

ATF spokeswoman April Langwell said the Treasury Department primarily handles investigations involving potentially tainted alcohol. But she said ATF has offered its assistance and would work with other law enforcement agencies to keep Americans safe. Francisco Javier García, the tourism minister in the Dominican Republic, said earlier this month that the deaths were not part of any mysterious series of fatalities but a statistically normal phenomenon lumped together by the US media. He said autopsies show the tourists died of natural causes. Five of the autopsies were complete as of last week, while three were undergoing further toxicological analysis with the help from the FBI because of the circumstances of the deaths.

(Read more Dominican Republic stories.)

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