SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Could moonshine be a culprit in the recent spike of American tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic
According to the New York Post, police in the Dominican Republic are investigating whether or not those who died were poisoned by counterfeit alcohol.
They’re also investigating who supplied the alcohol the victims drank before they died and if the drinks had any toxic chemicals in them, the Post reported.
A source tells the publication the FBI is assisting and will take blood samples from the victims back to its research center in Quantico, Virginia.
The U.S. State Department and family members have confirmed the deaths of at least 7 American citizens in the Dominican Republic in the last year.
Despite the recent spike in deaths of U.S. tourists on the island, as well as the shooting of former Red Sox star David Ortiz, Dominican officials insist the country is a safe destination.
Tourism Minister Francisco Javier Garcia said the deaths are unrelated.
“These cases are very regrettable, but isolated,” he said in a statement. “Investigation into them is a top priority for us and for the National Police. We are asking them to deploy all resources to help provide answers as quickly as possible.”
Dominican government spokesman Roberto Rodriguez Marchena and others this week started reusing the hashtag #BeFairWithDR — which the officials have used before to counter negative publicity.
“Cheerful, welcoming and hospitable, our Dominican Republic, the economy that grows the most in America, with its beautiful beaches and mountains, its tasty gastronomy and hardworking people invites you to know and love it,” he tweeted.
About 6.5 million tourists visited the Dominican Republic last year, more than any other Caribbean nation, according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization. The United States accounted for 2.2 million of those tourists — more than any other country in the region.
CNN contributed to this report.