All-inclusive resorts are popular destinations for young people — particularly college students on Spring Break — and young families eager to vacation in tropical locations. With lodging, food, and beverages all paid for up front, it seems like a rather practical way to relax and have fun in the sun. However, there has been a problem at several of these resorts in Mexico that many will find disturbing: Tourists suddenly getting sick, blacking out, getting injured, and even dying after drinking tainted alcohol. Raquel Rutledge says some incidents point to a motive — robbery, sexual assault, extortion — while others do not, but the problem might be more widespread than previously reported:

A 2015 report from Mexico’s Tax Administration Service found that 43% of all the alcohol consumed in the nation is illegal, produced under unregulated circumstances resulting in potentially dangerous concoctions.

The national health authority in Mexico has seized more than 1.4 million gallons of adulterated alcohol since 2010 — not just from small local establishments, but from hotels and other entertainment areas…

The bootleg liquor could be infused with grain alcohol or dangerous concentrations of methanol, cheaper alternatives to producing ethanol, government reports warn.

And the mixtures are capable of making people extremely sick.

The blackouts have happened to men and women, young and old, to singles and to couples, according to interviews with nearly a dozen travelers and family members whose loved ones died or were injured at the resorts, as well as hospital records, ambulance receipts, hotel correspondence and other documents.


It appears that some of the victims hadn’t been drinking all that much when they got sick. Some of them suspect they were drugged rather than given bad alcohol. Someone I know well told me that she blacked out shortly after drinking one “Welcome Punch” at a popular all-inclusive coastal resort in Mexico (handed to her by a hotel staff member as she waited to check in). This friend of mine, who is not a big drinker to begin with, doesn’t remember how she got to her hotel room where she woke up, hungover, the next morning. Fortunately she wasn’t hurt or robbed or worse. Still, the stories Rutledge tells in her article sounded very familiar:

Often the vacationers report that they drank tequila, but in other cases it was rum, beer or another alcohol.

Some said they had only a drink or two before losing consciousness and waking up hours later — with no recollection of how they got back to their rooms or to the hospital, or how they were injured.

Those interviewed said the feeling of being drugged is far different than that of being drunk. They felt certain that whatever happened to them was caused by more than drinking too heavily.

Terrifying is a word many used to describe it.


It’s a disturbing article. If you or a loved one is planning a vacation to one of these all-inclusive resorts, it’s one worth reading here.


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