With the newly implemented higher taxes for alcohol in Indonesia, a budding underground market for bootleg liquor has spawned in the country’s less economically proficient areas. As reported by the Associated Press, around 50 people have apparently died in just a little over a week after consuming the unregulated bootleg liquor in the western part of the country. The victims apparently also include some residents of the country’s capital, Jakarta. In the latest report from health officials, there have already been 17 deaths in Cicalengka’s sub-district near the capital of Bandung in the last week alone.
Sixteen people were reportedly rushed to the hospital last week, with all of them declared dead shortly after. One person was also rushed to the state-run hospital but was declared dead on arrival. Victims reportedly suffered from several severe symptoms from the poisoning, which include vomiting, shortness of breath, nausea, and unconsciousness.
Indonesia is currently one of the most populous Muslim nations in the world, which means that the consumption of alcohol is publicly frowned upon. However, it is not necessarily against the law to drink it under civil law. Due to the recently raised taxes on alcohol, a budding underground market has started to spread throughout the country. Due to its lack of regulation and oversight, most of the products being produced have been found to contain lethal ingredients.
As reported by ABC News, Ethanol has been found to be one of the ingredients used in the manufacturing of the bootleg liquor, which is apparently being mixed into the drink in lethal doses. The particular ingredient has also been found to be mixed with local soft drink variants and being sold as alcoholic beverages. Authorities have reportedly already shut down several stores selling the compromised drinks. Dozens of cans of palm wines and other distilled liquor have already been confiscated.
The spread of the bootleg liquor has become a problem for authorities as reports of poisoning have spread throughout the county, including smaller cities such as Bekasi and Depok. Authorities already have at least four suspects in custody, but more operations are underway to halt the spread of the lethal drinks.