Alcohol Seized at Border Amid Reports of Tainted Alcohol

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WESLACO – The U.S. State Department has issued a warning about tainted alcohol in Mexico. The warning comes following the death of a Wisconsin woman during her stay at an all-inclusive resort.

Her family believes tainted alcohol played a role in her death. Other families across the country have also come forward about their experiences.

The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission regulates the selling and manufacture of alcohol in Texas. The agency also has their eyes on people trying to cross alcohol from Mexico in the U.S.

TABC said tax compliance officers are stationed at ports of entry from the Rio Grande Valley to El Paso.

On July 27th, officers confiscated whiskey in a fuel stabilizer bottle at the Anzalduas port of entry.

Two days prior, officers seized 45 gallons of pulque in fuel containers at the Laredo port of entry.

On June 8th, a jar filled with mescal was confiscated in El Paso.

Chris Porter, a spokesperson with TABC, said the containers could contain more than alcohol.

"It could be anything. It could be illegal drugs that have been put in there for transport across the border. It could be any kind toxic chemicals," he said.

Porter added TABC regularly interdicts suspicious looking alcohol or illegal alcoholic beverages.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke with Albert Gonzalez who owns Bar 201 in downtown McAllen.

Gonzalez said regulations of alcohol in Texas are strict. The chances of a tainted or counterfeit bottle being served to you, he said, isn't likely.

"Because every single bottle that comes into a bar has to have a stamp," he said.

TABC places a sticker on bottles. Gonzalez said it serves as an invoice.

"Each one of these invoices has every sticker number that was delivered on that specific day on this invoice. So, it's a very controlled situation,” he explained.

Gonzalez said people shouldn't worry about consuming tainted or counterfeit alcohol. He said TABC conducts inspections regularly and at random.

"TABC routinely, part of their inspection process, they walk around, they look around for minors, but they also glance up at the bottles. And if they notice a bottle up there without that sticker, there's a problem,” he said.

The agency said it's important to stick with the brand of alcohol you drink regularly. That will make it easier to notice a change in smell, taste or color.

If you do believe you have consumed tainted alcohol or would like to report a suspicious product at an establishment, report it to the bar and TABC.

A formal complaint will allow the agency to conduct an investigation to determine if anything illegal is going on.

You can call TABC at 888-843-8422.


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