Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bad booze from Belize, say Quintana Roo health officials

*Updated June 15*
Cancún, Quintana Roo -
Adulterated liquor sold to unsuspecting consumers, including foreign tourists, is a growing problem along the Rivera Maya, according to state health officials.

MGR first reported on the issue May 17. Cancún bars push deadly drinks.

Investigators say most of the product originates in the Federal District, the State of Mexico (Edomex) and Belize, which has a common border with Q.R.

Health department agents recently staged a surprise operation in Cancún hotel zone restaurants and bars, which confirmed their fears. They attribute the use of adulterated alcohol to consumers' demand for cheap drinks, often sold during obligatory Happy Hours, and the desire for "prompt results."

A local newspaper has charged that at least four tourist deaths this year may have been linked to the consumption of such liquor shortly before the fatal events. In each case foreign visitors, Americans and Canadians, fell from hotel rooms after engaging in bizarre or risk taking behavior. But authorities ruled each an accident, and no criminal investigations are pending.

The Q.R. health department said it would soon publish a list of establishments where inspectors have encountered liquor control "irregularities." Adulterated alcohol often contains methanol, also known as wood alcohol, but ice cubes made with diethyl ether have reportedly been found in Cancún's sprawling hotel zone as well. Both can be fatal, and have been sold in bars, nightclubs, bazaars and in street flea markets, called tianguis, which are ubiquitous in Mexico. Symptoms of consumption may include extreme headaches, nausea, convulsions, spatial disorientation and confusion, blindness and severe respiratory distress. Even if one survives, permanent damage may have been done to bodily organs.

Many lodging and restaurant owners and operators in Cancún are pushing for vigorous enforcement of health regulations, claiming that recurrent rumors of adulterated alcohol sales are harming reputations and business revenues.

June 15 - Corruption is wide spread on the part of liquor control officials, according to this story, which claims that inspectors routinely demand and receive bribes of 10-30 thousand pesos ($800-$2400 US) to trash can violations by unscrupulous restaurant and bar proprietors.

"Una mesera cancunense a quien le gustaría entregarte, con placer, una botella de fino y muy raro embriagante, importada de manera exclusiva de Belize, para que los clientes siempre disfruten lo mejor."

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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