Federal inspectors have closed two bars at vacation hot spots in Quintana Roo for allegedly selling tainted alcohol and shut down an illegal producer of alcoholic beverages.
The closures took place last week after inspections at 31 bars in Playa del Carmen, where the lobby bar at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya was closed. The resort was where 20-year-old Abbey Conner, a visitor from Wisconsin, drowned under mysterious circumstances last January.
Also closed was the Fat Tuesday bar in Cancún. Agents with Cofepris, the Commission for Protection Against Health Risks, seized 334 liters of alcohol from the two bars.
They confiscated 40,000 liters of illegal alcoholic beverages at the unnamed beverage manufacturer, which allegedly supplied local bars, citing “bad manufacturing practices.”
The crackdown follows widespread publication in the United States of stories about tourists falling ill after just one or two drinks at upscale, all-inclusive resorts in the two tourist destinations.
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel published the results of an investigation launched last month that subsequently revealed that dozens of visitors had blacked out after drinking small or moderate quantities of alcohol, and that some had been assaulted and robbed.
Abbey Conner had been drinking at the bar with her brother in the Paraiso del Mar before they were found floating in the hotel swimming pool. She later died and her family suspects tainted alcohol or a drug may be to blame.
The closures and seizures were announced Friday at a press conference in Playa del Carmen, where it was evident that the stories — and their potential impact — have been taken seriously by authorities.
The conference was given by federal Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid, Cofepris chief Álvarez Pérez Vega and the state’s tourism and health secretaries.
Pérez Vega said last week’s operation was a special one but ongoing monitoring is being maintained on a permanent basis in Mexico. He said 5.3 million liters of alcoholic beverages have been seized in the last four and a half years and fines of 60 million pesos handed out.
Although no mention was made of the damning publicity about the tainted alcohol, officials provided information about the announcement, along with an audio recording, to the Journal Sentinel.
Several of the bars inspected last week were cited for lack of maintenance, cleanliness, order and documentation.