Death toll in Mexico’s latest mass alcohol poisoning rises to 18

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A worker known as ‘jimador’ performs the ‘Jima’ which consist in cutting the blue agave, later used to distil and produce Tequila on May 15, 2020 in Amatitan, Mexico. Unlike beer, tequila production was considered essential and distilleries continue to work during the pandemic. Exports to the United States in April increased 60%. (Photo by Refugio Ruiz/Getty Images)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Ten more people in Mexico have died from drinking alcohol adulterated with methanol, bringing the death toll in the latest incident to 18, authorities said Monday.

Adulterated liquor has cost more than a hundred lives in the country since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The government of the southern state of Guerrero said Monday the latest 18 deaths occurred in and around the mountain township of Tlapa de Comonfort, after inhabitants drank a tequila-type drink from little-known brands called “Rancho Escondido.”

Another 16 people were hospitalized for poisoning symptoms; four remain in serious condition. The area is known for its impoverished farming hamlets.

The Guerrero Health Department said the liquor was labeled as “distilled agave,” the cactus-like plant from which both tequila and mescal are made. Because tequila production is strictly limited to certain regions, drinks made outside those areas are sometimes labeled “agave liquor.”

The department said at least three brands were implicated in the poisonings: “Rancho Escondido,” “Jalón” and “100 Años.”

The department said the victims were admitted to hospitals in such serious condition that they rapidly died. Authorities seized 505 bottles of the liquor from four stores in the area.

Bad alcohol behind 2 deadly mass poisonings in Mexico; up to 40 perish

Such deaths have mounted in Mexico since coronavirus lockdowns began and many towns banned legitimate liquor sales. Many people also lost their jobs and apparently became unable to buy more professionally made liquors. But officials have not said whether the poisonings have arisen from either of those factors.

In May, authorities said as many as 40 people died after drinking methanol in two states in central Mexico. The suspect liquor in that case was a little-known brand called “Refino,” which translates roughly as “very fine.”

In late April, 25 people died in the state of Jalisco after drinking a cheap brand of cane alcohol known as “El Chorrito.”

Methanol is a poisonous cousin of the ethanol alcohol in normal liquors and cannot be smelled or tasted in drinks. It causes organ and brain damage, and its symptoms include chest pain, nausea, hyperventilation, blindness and even coma.

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The mission of BorderReport.com is to provide real-time delivery of the untold local stories about people living, working and migrating along the U.S. border with Mexico. The information is gathered by experienced and trusted Nexstar Media Group journalists hired specifically to cover the border.