Dominican Republic Mystery Deaths: 7 tourists could have died after consuming bootleg liquor, say investigators
Authorities are currently investigating whether at least seven tourists who mysteriously passed away in the Dominican Republic had been infected or poisoned by counterfeit booze being sold.
According to The Post, officials are questioning the supplier of the alcohol beverages consumed by the victims in their final hours before their death. Law enforcement sources added that they are looking into whether any of the drinks had any dangerous chemicals in them. A source shared that the FBI is also assisting with the case and will be taking blood samples from the deceased back to its research center in Quantico.
The Dominican government has insisted the deaths are all isolated incidents and reps of both resorts — the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Bahia Principe where the victims have died — described the deaths as simple accidents. However, most of the deaths have a lot of similarities as they involve apparently healthy adults, some of whom had drunk from their hotel room minibar, before becoming seriously ill.
Five American tourists died under mysterious circumstances on the island this year while the family of two others who died in 2018 said that they now suspect that their loved ones' death had a hint of foul play. Many others have reported getting sick after consuming beverages from the minibar but were able to survive. A reporter at one of the resorts had also noticed that the vodka in the room had a strange, potent smell which resembled pure alcohol.
A forensic science professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan said that the symptoms among those who died included nausea, vomiting and diarrhea which are consistent with poisoning from methanol or pesticides. Kobilinsky shared, "Adulterated alcohol is usually methanol added to alcohol or just plain methanol, which is very, very toxic. It looks to me, from what I’ve heard and read, is that something was added to the drinks or bottles in those little refrigerators."
The Dominican Ministry of Public Health said that health inspectors from many agencies had conducted several tests on the pool, air conditioning units, food areas, and alcohol at two Bahia Principe resorts where three visitors died. "There should be no methanol at all," in the liquor, Kobilinsky said. "If it’s there, it means it’s been adulterated or put there deliberately."
In 2017, Dominican Republic authorities had taken apart five labs which had been manufacturing alcohol which was not safe for human consumption. Hard Rock bartender, Angel Santana believes that the contamination claims are not possible. "I have been working here for nine years, and everything here has always been very safe," he said. The hotel said that it buys only "unopened products from licensed and reputable vendors".
The first suspicious death took place at the Hard Rock hotel took place in July 2018 when an American tourist, 45-year-old David Harrison fell ill and died in his room. Robert Bell Wallace, 67, also died in the same hotel. In May, 41-year-old Miranda Schaupp-Werner died after she drank from the minibar in her room at the Luxury Bahia Principe Bouganville resort. Around five days later, a couple from Maryland 63-year-old Nathaniel Edward Holmes and 49-year-old Cynthia Day were found dead at the Grand Bahia Principe. Yvette Monique Short also died at her hotel after drinking beverages from the minibar.