Multiple reports of tourists quickly losing consciousness and even dying after ingesting alcoholic drinks at resorts in Cancún and the Riviera Maya in Quintana Roo have raised a serious question:
Are some resorts drugging their guests or serving them tainted alcohol?
The story of 20-year-old Abbey Conner of Wisconsin, who died in January after drinking at a swim-up bar just hours into a vacation in Playa del Carmen, has earned international media coverage this week after numerous, similar reports from others have surfaced.
Shortly after arriving at the resort run by the Spanish company Iberostar, Abbey and her 22-year-old brother Austin went to the pool.
Austin Connor says that he and his sister had four or five shots of tequila together followed by another shot with another group of people. Soon after, both siblings lost consciousness.
When Abbey was pulled from the pool she was already brain dead and she passed away a few days later when she was taken off life support in Florida.
Apart from the brain injury she was also found to have a broken collarbone while her brother suffered a severe concussion. It is unclear what caused their injuries.
It is not the first time that tourists staying at resorts in the state have lost consciousness or sustained injuries so quickly after ingesting alcohol.
Nearly a dozen tourists or their family members have come forward to relate similar experiences and in some cases, victims say they blacked out after just one or two drinks.
Robbery, sexual assault and extortion have all been reported and considered as possible motives although in other cases there appears to be no motive.
One Wisconsin woman told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that she was sexually assaulted while both she and her husband were unconscious after having three drinks each on the beach while staying at an Iberostar property in Cancún.
An Iowa woman quickly lost consciousness at a swim-up bar at the same property after drinking one shot of tequila followed by a cocktail that the bartender described as “something special.”
Her next recollection was waking up in hospital vomiting and dehydrated.
Two young men from the United States drowned in the same pool at the Grand Oasis resort in Cancún in separate incidents — one almost 10 years ago, the other in 2013 — and the mother of one man, Maureen Webster, says hotel staff did nothing to help her son.
“Every time, every single time, something bad happens, they (Mexican resorts and authorities) blame the victim,” Webster said. “They were drunk, they were drunk . . . .”
All of the victims who have come forward say they are certain that they were victims of something other than heavy drinking.
An attorney hired by Connor’s family to investigate her case noted in a report that excessive drinking was the norm at the resort where Abbey Connor died but also alluded to tainted alcohol.
“They serve alcoholic drinks with alcohol of bad quality and in great amounts, mixing different types of drinks.”
It is the lawyer’s first finding that is most alarming, raising the possibility that all-inclusive resorts are using cheap, bootleg liquor in order to cut costs.
A 2015 report by the Federal Tax Administration (SAT) concluded that 43% of all alcohol consumed in Mexico is illegal and unregulated and as a consequence is potentially dangerous.
Authorities have seized more than 1.4 million gallons of adulterated alcohol since 2010, reports show, some from hotels.
There are also suspicions that local hospitals and other healthcare providers are overcharging foreign patients and maybe even colluding with resorts.
Abbey Conner’s family paid around US $17,000 for her initial treatment at a clinic near Playa del Carmen and soon after paid an amount in the tens of thousands of dollars to a hospital in Cancún where both Abbey and her brother were transferred.
Other victims reported being encouraged to go to hospital to seek treatment or being pressured for large — and in some cases up-front — cash payments.
In response to the claims, a spokeswoman from Iberostar stated that it takes the health and safety of all its guests very seriously and that the company only purchases sealed bottles of alcohol to be served at its resorts.
Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (en)