Tainted Methanol-Laced Alcohol Kills At Least 19 In Costa Rica Since June, Officials Say

Tainted Methanol-Laced Alcohol Kills At Least 19 In Costa Rica Since June, Officials Say

Experts are now questioning if counterfeit alcohol is behind the mysterious string of deaths in the Dominican Republic

Published July 22nd

Written by Rachel Herron

Officials in Costa Rica have issued a national alert after 19 people died from alcohol tainted with methanol, a substance often found in antifreeze.

According to the country's National Health Ministry, 15 men and 5 women between the ages of 32 and 72 died in different areas of the country since the beginning of June.

CNN reports 30,000 bottles of alcohol from varying brands were confiscated after samples tested positive for toxic levels of methanol.  

Vendors who continue to sell Guaro Montano, Guaro Gran Apache, Aguardiente Estrella, Aguardiente Barón Rojo, Aguardiente Timbuka and Molotov Aguardiente could face criminal charges.

Adding methanol or adulterating liquor with other substances allows distributors to grow their profits by increasing the volume of liquid they can sell, according to SafeProof

This is similar to the process used by illegal drug dealers who “cut” drugs like heroin with other additives such as fentanyl.

Victims of methanol poisoning can experience many symptoms, including but not limited to dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, headaches, and the inability to coordinate muscle movements.

Additionally, symptoms of methanol poisoning often appear long after methanol has been consumed, according to the World Health Organization

The World Health Organization also reports methanol poisoning outbreaks are often tied to counterfeit or informally produced drinks.

The recent outbreak of methanol poisoning in Costa Rica has health experts wondering if counterfeit alcohol tainted with similar toxic chemicals is behind the string of tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic.

In 2019, at least nine American tourists died under similar circumstances while vacationing in the Dominican Republic. 

Since several of those deaths occurred after the tourists took a drink from their hotel minibars, the FBI and Dominican authorities began investigating whether tainted alcohol caused these deaths.

The U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council made a list of tips for alcohol consumption. The council warns travelers to never drink homemade liquor and to check the packaging of alcohol to verify it was manufactured by a reputable company.

(Photo: COSTA RICA MINISTRY OF HEALTH)

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