San Jose, Costa Rica

On August 5, 2019 The Ministry of Health posted an update to the ongoing tragedy of deaths from methanol poisoning. In late June and early July, the Ministry began receiving reports of methanol poisonings from numerous locations throughout the country. The Ministry immediately acted and launched investigations into the reported deaths.

Below are the nine brands that have counterfeit bottles in circulation:

 

On July 5, 2019 the Ministry of Health issued a national warning after 8 deaths were tied to the consumption of popular named brand liquors. The Ministry of Health in conjunction with law enforcement began sampling a variety of brands bearing labels of the national distillery, The National Liquor Factory (FANAL) along with an unregistered brand Aguardiente Barón Rojo. When tests came back positive for high levels of methanol in the unregistered brands as well as the popular registered brands of FANAL, the Ministry issued a warning to merchants to stop selling the brands. Consumers were warned not to drink the branded liquors as the counterfeited versions could not be distinguished from the authentic brands merely by looking at the bottles, labels and caps.

The Ministry of Health in conjunction with local, state and national enforcement agencies began confiscating the liquor from retail establishments. By Early July over 33,000 bottles were confiscated by officials.

The Ministry has been actively updating the citizens of Costa Rica on the results of the investigations and their findings as they try to solve this national crisis of poisoned liquor. On July 24, 2019 The Ministry of Health posted the results of a raid on the distributor Pinares de Heredia, located in San Isidro de Coronado, in order to obtain information on the methanol adulterated product Red Star Brandy.

The raid on Pinares de Heredia was the result of the Ministry learning that the distributor did not have valid sanitary registration to operate in distributing alcoholic beverages. As the product that was encountered was suspect and unregistered, it was seized by the Ministry with the help of local law enforcement agents. Barrels and containers of raw alcohol were confiscated along with cased bottles ready for retail. Samples of the confiscated liquids were taken and sent for laboratory analysis.

Costa RIca Methanol Alcohol Deaths
Top: Counterfeit liquor bottles seized at a local shop. Bottom left: Cases of counterfeit brand name alcohol. Bottom right: An illicit liquor distributor seized by Costa Rican Police had barrels of methanol alcohol.

Along with this wholesale seizure of liquor, the Ministry now counts as many as 55,000 bottles of suspected fake liquor seized in various raids throughout the country. Along with the Pinares de Heredia raid the authorities have shuttered at least 10 retail establishments for selling the counterfeit alcohol.

In a July 30th update posted to the Costa Rica Ministry of Health web site, they re-iterated to consumers that the health alert first issued on July 5th was extended.

With positive methanol test results arriving at the Ministry of Health, they again updated their warning to consumers on July 31, 2019 reminding them of the brands in question along with re-publishing their original warning from July 5, 2019.

  • Do not consume or acquire “Guaro chonete”, “Guaro Cuerazo”, “Guaro Sacheto”, “Guaro Gran Apache”, “Firewater Red Star”, “Guaro Montano”, “Firewater Red Baron”, “Aguardiente Timbuka” or “Aguardiente Molotov “If it is not guaranteed to be the original product without contaminating or until the health alert is lifted.
  • Do Not market “Guaro chonete”, “Guaro Cuerazo”, “Guaro Sacheto”, “Guaro Gran Apache”, “Firewater Red Star”, “Guaro Montano”, “Firewater Red Baron”, “Brandy Timbuka” or “Brandy Molotov” if It not guaranteed to be the original product without contaminating or until the alert is lifted.
  • Immediately report to the Ministry of Health to the mail [email protected] if You have presented any box of methanol poisoning With adulterated liquor or spirits of the names of the products of others or Indicated here. The symptoms are: abdominal pain acute, acute headache and ataxia (lack of coordination of body movements).
  • Report to the Ministry of Health, through the mail [email protected] Those establishments or persons and companies are suspected of being That commercialized adulterated liquor or spirits.
The death rate in #CostaRica continues to climb as a result of #Counterfeit #Liquor bottles adulterated with #MethanolAlcohol - View all 9 brands on #SafeProof Click to Tweet

In the August 5th update the Ministry of Health released statistics related to the mass methanol poisonings that have not subsided. In its most recent update posted on the Ministry’s web site it was revealed that 59 people have been treated for methanol poisoning with 25 deaths.

Among the deaths that have been tied to the counterfeited alcohol tainted with methanol, The Ministry of Health released demographics on those that died from the alcohol poisonings. The Ministry stated that 19 men and 6 women between the ages of 32-72 were the casualties of this outbreak of methanol poisoning.

In updating the findings of the investigation, the Ministry expanded its list of brands that should not be consumed to nine. The updated Health Alert warns against drinking liquors sold under the following brands, Guaro Montano, Guaro Chonete; Guaro Cuerazo; Guaro Sacheto; Guaro Gran Apache, Aguardiente Estrella Roja; Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Aguardiente Timbuka, as well as Aguardiente Molotov.

The mission of SafeProof.org is to raise awareness for Fake or Counterfeit alcohol and to keep liquor safe Search liquor enforcement using our map to keep you and your drinks safe. Report any illicit alcohol activity to us using our secure form or by calling 1 (833) SAFE-TIP To get the latest Alcohol Alerts and violation updates in your area Sign-up for SafeProof.org emails and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @SafeProof #DrinkSafe

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