April 1, 2019 – Mexico City, Mexico

Travel warnings for American Citizens by the United States State Department (USSD) are issued throughout the year to supplement the permanent warnings in place for each destination. It is typical for a USSD warning to be issued for a country when there is civil unrest, armed conflict, murders, a rash of robberies, or other unsafe conditions.

Typical warnings for every country by the USSD include facts about medical insurance, weather related anomalies, potential earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and safety instructions about interacting with the local people. Also making the normal State Department warnings are laws that carry lengthy prison sentences, how to interact with police and who to contact if arrested.

Illegal drug use and its consequences has been making the warning lists for decades. In recent times, sexual assault proclivities have been added to the issued warnings for destinations that have reported an inordinate amount of sexual crimes against Americans.

The USSD does post superseding, emergency warnings on their main web site when circumstances warrant. In general, the warnings are issued by the US Embassy located in that country and posted on their web site. Along with general warnings for all travelers to a country, the local US Embassy will offer special warnings for events and holidays that may attract an unusually large number of US visitors.

Students on Spring Break
Students on Spring Break can become easy victims of unregulated alcohol

Spring break in Mexico is an event that attended by many American students who are attracted by the all-inclusive prices, beaches and free flowing alcohol with little age enforcement. Over the last 2 decades, travelers have been sharing their experiences about consuming tainted alcohol in Mexico, especially at the all-inclusive resorts.

Of note in the Security Alert for Spring Break 2019 from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico is item number three on the list:

  • Unregulated Alcohol: U.S. citizens have reported losing consciousness or becoming injured after consuming unregulated alcohol.

In the Actions to Take portion of the bulletin, alcohol consumption is mentioned in three separate bullet points:

  • Avoid strong currents and do not swim after drinking or when warning flags note unsafe conditions.
  • Drink responsibly and watch your drink at all times. If you begin to feel ill, seek medical attention immediately. Report cases of unregulated alcohol to the Mexican Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risk (COFEPRIS) at [email protected]
  • Know your drinking companions and stay in a group of friends who have your safety in mind when you are in clubs and bars, out walking in dimly-lit areas, or in a taxi at night. Obey Mexican law and remember Mexican laws may differ from U.S. laws

It is interesting that the USSD classifies the suspected alcohol as “unregulated” which is a softer word than if they had named it for what it is, counterfeit, fake, adulterated, poison or tainted alcohol.

In a case that drew National attention, 20 -year-old Abbey Conner died at an all-inclusive Mexican resort, tainted, poisonous, adulterated alcohol is suspected. Mexican authorities denied it and attributed her death to binge drinking.

After the Abbey Conner incident drew substantial press coverage in the United States, the Mexican Government conducted highly publicized raids on the all-inclusive resorts claiming to have confiscated over 10,000 gallons of counterfeit, fake, tainted or adulterated alcohol. After much fanfare and promises that the alcohol would be tested, and results made public the focus of the story changed.

The Mexican Secretary of Tourism, Enriaue de la Madrid Cordero was sent on a press tour to the United States to tell news agencies that the Abbey Conner death had nothing to do with fake or tainted alcohol, rather it was a case of an American drinking too much while on vacation.

US Embassy Warns that Students on #SpringBreak can become easy victims of Unregulated Alcohol #DrinkSafe Click to Tweet

After the death of Abbey Conner, the USSD, like the Mexican Authorities seem to have been responding. On December 17, 2017, The United States State Department announced that they would begin tracking reports of tainted alcohol in Mexico. Along with this announcement a warning was issued to tourists that fake alcohol may be present in Mexico. As of the date of this writing there have been no reports issued by the United States State Department regarding any investigations into tainted alcohol in Mexico.

The family of Abbey Conner continues to seek answers and in November of 2018 filed a 24-page wrongful death suit in Florida, naming Iberostar and its website operator, Visit Us as well as Club Member Services. None of the Companies named would comment on the suit.

Although the warning from the U.S. State Department does not mention counterfeit, fake, adulterated or tainted alcohol but rather labels it as “unregulated alcohol”, it is at least a start. With worldwide deaths from poison, counterfeit, fake, adulterated or tainted alcohol escalating yearly, the U.S. State Department has failed to warn against its prevalence in countries that are visited not only by U.S. Tourists but becomes the temporary home of U.S. Exchange Students.

The problem is not limited to tourists, it affects foreign exchange students who are never educated about the dangers that fake alcohol presents in other countries, In the United States. students like all adults assume that alcoholic beverages are safe to drink.

On September 23, 2018 foreign exchange student Ryan Turney, a senior at UNCW was killed by methanol poisoned alcohol in Vietnam. Well read and majoring in foreign relations, Ryan was never made aware of the deadly alcohol that lurks around the world.

It is imperative that the United States State Department not only inform U.S. Citizens about it is past time for them to address and warn the thousands of U.S. Exchange students who live in countries where poison alcohol is an ever-present threat.

United States Universities and Colleges as well as all countries that actively engage in sending students to other countries should put in place a program to teach their students about the dangers of fake alcohol and its deadly consequences.

SafeProof.org is a consumer advocacy group, funded through donations from concerned individuals, industry groups and alcohol brands. The goal of SafeProof.org is to raise awareness about the prevalence of counterfeit alcohol throughout the world. Our Alcohol Articles highlight alcohol-related stories using worldwide news outlets and official government sources. 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 @SafeProof also on Instagram @SafeProof