UPDATED 6:50 AM PT — Thursday, May 14, 2020
Mexico has been dealing with a surge in deaths from bootleg alcohol after coronavirus-related shutdown orders closed a number of breweries. According to reports Wednesday, more than 70 people have died over the past two-weeks in states like Jalisco and Yucatan.
Officials said the alcohol is being distributed as the beer brands Heineken and Modelo. The illegal alcohol contains the highly flammable and toxic substance methanol. Ingestion of the substance can cause blindness, hyperventilation, poisoning of the nervous system, coma and in some cases even death.
“Yesterday I took my son to the doctor, he was ill. He complained he went blind. He could no longer see. Everything was blurry. So he said: ‘Dad, take me to the doctor, help me feel better. I feel awful.’ His chest and stomach went stiff.”
— Marcos Linares, father of a victim
Breweries have been considered a “non-essential” business amid lockdowns and Mexican citizens have also been reeling the economic effects of such orders. Both factors may play a role in the spike of bootleg business.
Officials are urging residents to use caution when purchasing alcohol. An investigation is currently underway to identify the suppliers of the tainted spirits.