At least 13 criminal groups are behind the production of altered alcohol sold in bottles identical to the legal versions but tainted with methanol, an industrial alcohol responsible for 34 hospitalizations and 19 deaths.
In some areas, one can buy three bottles of this falsified liquor for ¢1,000, a very attractive offer for frequent drinkers who are poor. They end up drinking a type of alcohol meant as a solvent in refrigeration systems.
These bottles of alcohol are made without sanitary controls. One person who worked in a clandestine factory reported that products are mixed with wooden sticks that leave behind particles in the alcohol which are later filtered out through stockings.
Over the last week, the Fiscal Control Police, Ministry of Finance, and Municipal Police of San José seized 29,943 containers of the brands believed to be tainted.
Between 2014 and 2017, illegal alcohol production grew by 48%. It took about 20% of the national market.