Abbey Connor: pulled brain dead from pool. Abbey Connor: pulled brain dead from pool.

Reports surface that tourists were drugged

Nearly a dozen people have come forward since woman's death in January

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:

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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.

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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)

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  • Jeff Swanson

    I call BS! Yes I bet it is tainted alcohol, these “all in” places places, drink all you want for free, probable rubbing alcohol.

    Probable set to make you sick so you drink less.

    WoW! and 17,000.USD in hospital bills overnight in cheap Mexico. way to go guys! Another 20k USD after transfer to another Mexican Hospital! Makes ya wonder, maybe they cook the hooch?

    Gotta love the old 1920’s American Bootlegger joke go’s like this “HEY FRANK! hear a couple of suckers got poisoned last night at your place off the hooch” Frank replies “How many damn times have I told you not to talk shop with me”

    OK for the young here who don’t get “talk shop” is a very old term meaning “WHAT ELSE IS NEW” now you can laugh !

    • Steverino

      Foolish. Nothing is “free”. The cost of an all inclusive is not low. These are, for the most part, very large international as well as Mexican corporations that are quite busy and have legitimate and excellent bottom lines. They have no reason to poison their guests. Obviously I don’t know what the other guest sitting next to you might have done but the resort? c’mon. Bartenders all over live on tips from happy customers, not sick or dead ones. Do you really think a company the size of Iberostar or Hyatt or any of the others would take a chance selling bootlegged booze and risk this kind of negative PR?

      • Gregzzz

        Your willfully blind… moron

        • Steverino

          I’m certain that you meant, “you’re” !
          Have a blissful day.

          • Gregzzz

            True, grammar Nazi… that would be correct. I will type your because its quicker. Wont even use apstrophes either. Not because I dont know but because its quicker and this isnt a term paper. Now carry on putz….

      • RiverFred

        A comment with common sense, good for you. A little self-control would prevent these deaths.

        • Buck Turgidson

          Self control when there are rampant reports of people passing out after one or two drinks? What about all of the verified accounts of hospital extortion schemes regardless of whether the patient had an alcohol-related illness?

          • Steverino

            “rampant reports”? Where?

            I do know of one hospital chain, not Mexican company, that charges some outrageous fees. However, I do not know of ” all of the verified accounts of hospital extortion”.

      • skully

        Apparently, you’ve never been served a cocktail with a roofie in it. I have! Half way through my first cocktail of the day, a margarita, and I could hardly function. It was a miserable experience.

      • Buck Turgidson

        Steverino, your argument may be true at the corporate HQ level back in whatever city in Spain Iberostar is based. But can Iberostar control what’s going on in Riviera Maya? Can it really monitor, audit, and more importantly enforce best practices in its resorts? Does Iberostar corporate HQ really care about anything else as long Iberostar resorts meet and exceed the bottom line?

        This extends well beyond the reach of “a company the size of Iberostar”, which isn’t even headquartered in Mexico. There’s clearly a connection of the goings on with organized crime (i.e., the cartels) and a collusion with the local hospitals who are presumably also intricately linked with the cartels. I’d be willing to bet any money that Iberostar has to pay the cartels protection money. Unless Iberostar wakes up, brings in its own “enforcers”, and cleans it house in Mexico, this will continue. That being said, it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon.

        • Steverino

          Iberostar has over 100 hotels and certainly cares about the international reputation of the brand, just as Hyatt, Marriott, or any other large hotel operation. How does any large company in any business control best practices at the branches, stores, etc. ? You make some strong “assumptions” (you know the old saying about to assume) and I have no idea on what you base them. I also have no idea what you think is happening at Iberostar or any other resorts in Q Roo. If all you are saying is in reference to the tragic death of a young adult last January, you are sadly mistaken.

          • Buck Turgidson

            Steverino,
            The proof is in the pudding now. As of today, the Mexican authorities have seized illicit alcohol in a crackdown at resorts, notably at the main lobby bar at Iberostar Paraiso Maya. I am not making this up and this is not hearsay, this is the real deal. Nor am not making “strong assumptions”, as you assert. I said it once, and I’ll say it again, Iberostar needs to get its house in order, and quickly, or their business is going to tank. So I guess you’re right about that old saying about to assume.

      • Jeff Swanson

        Well wake the hell up buddy, the government of Mexico just confiscated 10,000 gallons of illegal poison booze from these “Legitimate resorts”

        Yes they did take the chance and got caught, BUT only in Mexico, they would not do it anywhere else in the world. VIVA LA MEXICO!

        • Steverino

          You may want to do a bit more reading. I did not see where any of that was taken from any of the all inclusives. The lobby bar at one was closed for a bit due to “unlabeled bottle” and a water leak. I know that bar well and will be glad to drink there anytime. I was at another of the resorts yesterday, but only had 3 drinks. I will be at one later today, another on Monday and still another on Tuesday. I hope to have a drink or two at each. There are, certainly, bars in every city of the world where I won’t drink. Try reading about the problem in the UK, and the rest of the world. You seem to have a “hate” for Mexico. Too bad. Is it possible that a hospital gouged a tourist on a bill? I guess so and that is wrong, however I don’t know what was done to try to save the life of a foolish young woman who drank herself into a near stupor. (BAC of 0.25). 0.08 is DUI. When discussing health care, we must include what is called “medical tourism”. For U. S. citizens, the number one location for health care is Thailand and number two is Mexico. There is much to read, you would do yourself a service to become aware of these things and not just the media headlines.

        • Garry Montgomery

          Jeff, Jeff, nonsense. Reality, please. The U.S. was the home of bootleg liquor and it STILL exists today! Where on earth do you live in the U.S. that you’re not aware???

  • Stylez

    Letting the wolves get to close to the sheep.

  • Gregzzz

    This is a scam and they are all in on it. The resorts and the ” hospitals ” are extorting money from these people. This lawyer is a joke. It’s not bad alcohol….. its being drugged and left to die. How this lawyer can blame it on bad alcohol proves he is more concerned with saving Mexico face then these poor people. Its so obvious. If you have ever been roofied YOU KNOW IT!!!! I have been roofied before. Two beers and it’s lights out. People claiming they just over drank are pathetic. When you take a few shots and all of the sudden pass out in a pool ( just before they were going to meet their parents for dinner btw ) it’s obvious they were drugged. Lot

    • Gregzzz

      There are hundreds of stories like this happening. All exactly the same! Roofied at a swim up bar…. drowned or almost drowned …. robbed or told to get medical treatment and then extorted for thousands. Get the gringos money is all that matters. Scam is so obvious I can’t believe it still works.

      • Steverino

        Right, it’s that association of swim up bar bartenders. And of course the hospitals know which bartender at which bar did it so they can send him his commission. Hundreds of stories exactly the same? Maybe thousands of stories exactly the same. Or, maybe one story told hundreds of times.

        • Gregzzz

          Go do some research before you speak… I’ve done my due diligence. This happens all the time.

          • Garry Montgomery

            B/S

      • Garry Montgomery

        tainted alcohol is not roofied! DUH. Assumptions without proof. What good is a roofie in a public pool?

    • Steverino

      Sadly, these two young people came from Wisconsin weather to Mexico weather and in short order (less than two hours) admitted to having 6 shots of Tequila. Give me a break! They had blood alcohol levels 3 times the legal limit in Wisconsin. Soon to have dinner means probably empty stomach and a shot of Tequila every 15 to 17 minutes in the hot sun?

      • Sharon

        Bars in Mexico are all guilty of over serving people young and old. People do not realize that the lower altitude, the heat and jet lag, can cause you to get drunk faster. These `kids` should never have been served that many shots in a row. Sad that the parents did not supervise them – not sure what the drinking age is where they come from, but most states it is 21. We see it all the time and it is disgusting, many young people end up at Rescate, some end up dead and all have their fun time ruined. Our Rescate station does not charge for their services, but ask for a donation, to off-set costs. During Semana Sante, they use the whole years budget treating all the drunks teenagers.
        It is especially bad when we see people(gringos) who are obviously drunk, get into cars and drive away. A couple of blocks later they are being extorted by the police for money. The police take your car, then drive you to the nearest ATM and make you take out as much money as you can. They then take you back to your car, hand you your keys and move onto the next gringo. No charges are ever laid and the money never makes it to the police station.

        • Steverino

          A BROAD brush, no? “Bars in Mexico are all guilty” ! BTW, don’t confuse different scenarios. Pretty much nobody driving away from the bar at an all inclusive resort.

    • Garry Montgomery

      Way too dramatic, Gregzzz

  • Pesobill

    Looks like Mexihole is getting well deserved warnings on their crooked hospitals .. Funny how the illegals come into our USA hospitals and pay nothing after skipping out on the bill and the Gringos are gouged when they are in Mexico… I remember having my mom in a “St. Gringo’s” hospital in San Jose del Cabo and how they padded the bill ,you have near zero protection against these well entrenched crooks … They often rip off Canadians and Americans on hospital services ,bout’ time this was brought to the attention of tourists .. Mexico is a beautiful country sadly being ruined by their crooked ways ..

    • Anthony Stein

      And it is too bad..Cancun and the Mayan Riveria was amazing 30 years ago! But the more it grew the more shady it became until Cancun now is like a Las Vegas shit hole full of thieves and drug dealers! How many other places can they screw up now! Playa del Carmen is a battle ground for cartels now too! Next is San Miguel de Allende..the cartels have arrived and the place is over run by the folks of Mexico City whom the cartels love to follow!

      • frankania

        There are no LIQUOR cartels….I wonder why…..maybe because it is not under USA prohibition laws. Stop the stupid “war on drugs” and cartels will disappear as in the 1920’s…

        • Buck Turgidson

          Actually, we don’t know that… they may not be liquor cartels per se, but the running of bootleg liquor operations is very likely controlled by the major drug cartels. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the manufacture of bootleg liquor (probably including all kinds of impurities, methanol, PGA, etc. to make it cheap) IS controlled by the cartels, as is the gouging/extortion of tourists who have to go to the hospital as a result of drinking it. Collusion among the cartels, the resorts such as Iberostar, the hospitals, and corrupt gov’t and police is a huge cash cow that could bring in much more than simply tourist $$ alone.

      • kallen

        Mexico has transitioned from a failed state to narco state. The government is effete against the cartels: they’re just puppets for show,

        • Gregzzz

          Truth….

      • Buck Turgidson

        I actually went to Riviera Maya last year and had a wonderful time with my family, drank alcohol in moderation with no problems, and had high accolades for the resort and the warm and friendly service we received. That being said, these more recent events are very concerning. We had reservations to stay again (Iberostar), but canceled them because of all of these incidents (alcohol poisoning, hospital extortion schemes) as well as the night club killings in PDC (5 dead in January) and recent shootouts in and around Cancun etc. More importantly, the cavalier manner of Iberostar in not addressing these problems, and the collusion with TripAdvisor.com, whose censors delete negative posts and threads about these incidents at these resorts in Mexico. We probably would’ve been perfectly safe again and very happy as the last time, but how can one truly relax and enjoy a vacation with the lingering doubts about security, not being able to let your guard down, and being at the complete mercy of the local/regional security, bartenders, and the local hospitals?

  • Anthony Stein

    They are their own worst enemy…one day they will get caught and this will bite them in the ass! Are the US hospitals doing the same? A Canadian woman was bite by a scorpion in Yuma AZ and they charged her 12 thousand dollars for her three day stay in the hospital!

    • Fred Jones

      All US hospital cost are out of control no matter who the patient is.

  • Becky Milward

    Sadly, there have been similar experiences here in San Miguel de Allende of people being drugged and either robbed or raped or both. Heartbreaking…as I love living in Mexico as an ex-patriot. The world is pretty scary right now…not just Mex.

    • Beau

      And to think that this month San Miguel de Allende was voted the Best City in the world to visit.

    • Gregzzz

      Mexico is a narco state. The cartels run the govt pretty much. Totally corrupt from top to bottom. 2nd most dangerous country on planet earth!

  • Garry Montgomery

    Hmmm . . . Iberostar?

    • Buck Turgidson

      Yep. Google “Mexican authorities seize illicit alcohol in crackdown”, which is in today’s news.

      • Garry Montgomery

        Wow! So I guess even the biggest fail due to cutting corners on purchasing supervision (or bribes)

        • Buck Turgidson

          Hopefully they can learn from their mistakes and not let it happen again. Bad press will cost them much more in impact on revenue than they would’ve saved with cheapo illicit liquor.

          • Garry Montgomery

            Unfortunately mud sticks. Even though there were only two resort brands to blame, the tarnish covers the whole of the all-inclusive industry.

  • Douglas MacDowell

    Recently, I read the story about Abbey Conner’s death and her wish to have her organs donated. It is a moving story. I’m not sure if Mexico News Daily will permit me to share a link to the story but I will try. Go to: http://faithit.com/dad-travels-1400-miles-hear-daughters-heartbeat/

    There is also a video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHAEGrYnFeY

    If you read the story and watch the video you might need a tissue or two. It is quite a story.

  • Fred Jones

    My last visit to Mexico I did not drink anything but bottled water. For those that drink I suggest bottled beer, just open the the bottle yourself.

    • Steverino

      I live in Playa del Carmen and my work takes me to the all inclusive hotels on a regular basis. I have no problem drinking at any of them. I must admit though, that I have seen guests making absolute fools of themselves drinking far more than they should

  • kallen

    At the Palmes de Cortez here in Los Barriles, a female friend of mine was photographed nude while she was showering by a peeping tom on a step ladder. When hotel management was alerted the hotel did nothing. If this kind of thing can happen in a sleeply little fishing town, I can sure believe that the big tourist destinations are experiencing scams of much greater severity like that depicted in this story. As usual, the Mexican government is deaf and mute.

    • Sharon

      Were there no drapes on the windows and no door on the bano

      • kallen

        The peeping tom was on a step ladder photographing through a ventilation window.

  • Rick

    I owned a restaurant here in Cabo San Lucas and was shocked when all my bartenders asked why they were to scratch the label of empty liquor bottles. It is to prevent them from being refilled i said. They replied everywhere they worked it was normal to refill the bottles. If you see bartenders not scratching the label of an empty, be very careful and call the manager.

    • June

      I never knew that practice. Thanks for sharing it!

    • Sharon

      It is also to reason the liquor companies are putting those plastic fittings inside the neck of the bottles – you cannot refill them, they only open one way. That way if you order premium brands you can be sure it is the real deal. Thank goodness we have honest bar & restaurant owners here in San Carlos. The only way you can get sick or pass out, is if you drink too much, and some are starting to cut people off as well.

  • Steverino

    It seems that I have never been served anything like that. Where were you served that? I don’t even know what a roofie is. You seem to be saying that the bartender “drugged” you, yes? Why? So you could hardly function and the result was……? You left a larger tip? Hypothesis – the bartender thought you would seek help at a local hospital and the staff there would know which bartender at which bar served you and they would send him a commission? Sorry, but I just don’t get it.

  • coll

    I have been going down to the Riviera Maya for 20 years now. Summer or spring break with my boys. Never have I had a bad experience. That being said, I do want to say that I had talked to a bartender friend at Iberostar about an incident that I had witnessed. About 7:00 P.M. I was having a cocktail before my kids joined up with me for dinner. 2 couples came in…one man, (30’s) was staggering. The man Sat at a nearby barstool and the 3 stood. Ordering drinks, the wife, standing behind him, kept shaking her head “NO!!’ The bartender fixed 4 drinks. The man could barely speak and was soon passed out at the bar. After finishing their drinks the 3 hauled him off to their room. I asked my friend why he gave the man one. He said, as an all-inclusive he was told by management that they have to do that. “Even though he was smashed?” I asked. Yep…was the answer. Too bad…

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