Mexico Seizes 10,000 Gallons of Illicit Alcohol From Resorts, After Mysterious Death of US Woman

August 14, 2017 Updated: August 14, 2017

Mexican authorities seized 10,000 gallons of illicit alcohol after a recent crackdown against 31 resorts, restaurants, and nightclubs in Cancun and Playa del Carmen. 

Regulators suspended operations in two locations for unsanitary alcohol and along the way discovered a questionable manufacturer supplying booze to popular tourist hot spots, the Journal Sentinel reported. 

That manufacturing company was noted for its “bad manufacturing practices,” but did not release the name of the company. 

The wide-reaching crackdown came in the wake of the death of 20-year-old Wisconsin woman, Abbey Conner, in January after a family vacation. She was found in a shallow pool at Iberostar’s Paraiso del Mar in Playa del Carmen where Mexico officials insist she died from drowning. The family suspected otherwise. 

Mexican tourist locations popular with young college students, in particular, may have been targeted by these manufacturers for selling tainted alcohol. In particular, Abby Conner’s family believed she drank bootleg alcohol that caused her to fall unconscious before she was found face-down in the shallow pool. 

The hotel where Conner died had their lobby bar at the Iberostar Paraiso Maya temporarily shut down by authorities, as part of the crackdown. 

(Screenshot Via Iberostar Hotels and Resorts)

Another bar was also temporarily shut down in Cancun called Fat Tuesday. In total, regulators seized 90 gallons of illegal alcohol from the two locations, including some from the bar at Conner’s hotel that was unlabeled. 

“This is awesome; this is huge,” Abbey Conner’s mother Ginny McGowan, told the Journal Sentinel. 

McGowan, who lives in Pewaukee said the crackdown is a step in the right direction. 

“It’s needed. There is obviously stuff going on that needs to be cleaned up and looked into further,” said McGowan. “They need to investigate and interview employees. This makes sense. This needs to happen,” she said. 

According to an investigation by the Journal Sentinel last month, dozens of travelers who stayed at luxury resorts, like the one Abbey was at around Cancun and Playa del Carmen, have been blacking out after drinking only small or moderate amounts of alcohol.  

Some travelers were even assaulted or robbed. All had barely any recollection of what had happened before blacking out, according to the investigation. 

The U.S. State Department only began warning travelers about alcohol risks in resorts after the newspaper’s investigation into Connor’s death. 

Mexican Officials did not reveal if any of their findings would lead to a criminal prosecution. They also didn’t say if they were investigating what events led to the death of Conner.