Mexican authorities seized ‘tainted’ alcohol from resorts after a 20-year-old woman died — and the problem is more common than you’d think

Abbey conner facebook
20-year-old Abbey Conner drowned after drinking at a bar in Playa del Carmen. Investigators suspect illicit alcohol was involved. Facebook

“Tainted” alcohol in Mexico allegedly killed a 20-year-old tourist — and it’s more common than you think.

Authorities in Mexico have seized 10,000 gallons of potentially tainted alcohol from a seedy manufacturer and temporarily shut down two unsanitary serving locations in Cancun and Playa del Carmen, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Of the 31 clubs, resorts, and restaurants in the areas searched by the Mexican government, one was a bar in the complex where 20-year-old Abbey Conner, from Wisconsin, drowned after drinking.

Conner had been vacationing with her family at the Paraiso del Mar hotel near Playa del Carmen in January when, according to the Sentinel, she and her brother Austin visited a swim-up bar at the hotel. Both siblings were found floating in the pool hours later — Austin suffered only a concussion and memory loss, however.

Other vacationers at the resort also told the Sentinel they had experienced similar troubling occurrences after drinking at several of its bars — some blacked out; others said they were assaulted.

An attorney hired by Conner’s family reported “low quality” alcohol being served at the bar.

The incident does not appear to be an isolated one.

Drinking alcohol shots toast
As much as 36% of the alcohol consumed in Mexico could be illegal. Pra Chid/Shutterstock

According to a 2017 report by Euromonitor International, as much as a third of the alcohol consumed in Mexico is illicit; another report found that several other South American countries suffer from the illegal alcohol trade as well including Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, and Peru. The booze can be made anywhere and include virtually anything.

In addition to shady producers making illicit booze and selling it without any labels, manufacturers may also sell illegal alcohol under legal brand names and refill legal products with cheaper alcohol, according to the report. Other times, establishments have been found to serve alcohol not intended for human consumption — such as the alcohol found in pharmaceutical alcohol, mouthwash, or perfumes and colognes.

In addition to potentially poisonous booze, the Mexican government also found unclean conditions at nineteen of the locations they searched. The lobby bar at the complex where Conner drowned was found to have water leakage, a lack of disinfectant, plus alcohol that was expired and unlabeled.