Two recent downtown deaths have been linked to a new trend amongst alcohol abusers and the Albuquerque Police Department is seeking help from grocery and drug stores to stop it.
Albuquerque — Albuquerque police have discovered that chronic alcohol abusers are going to drug and grocery stores intoxicated and purchasing hand sanitizer and mouth wash. They then pour the hand sanitizer into the mouth wash creating a strong shot of alcohol. They are able to create the potent drink at little cost. Hand sanitizer has been retailing for as little as $.99 a bottle. An 8-ounce bottle of hand sanitizer, which contains 63-percent alcohol, is equivalent to about 5 shots of hard liquor. Many hand sanitizers are also sold in fragrances giving it added flavor when it is made into a drink.
“This potent drink can have a deadly effect,” Chief Ray Schultz said. “We have seen the effects first hand and we need the help of retailers to agree not to sell hand sanitizer and mouth wash to people who come into their stores intoxicated.”
On March 20, 2012 Albuquerque police officers were dispatched to a report of a man lying unconscious in the 500 block of Roma NW. When they arrived they found 42-year-old Kennard Chee covered in blood. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Andrew Kinlichinniee and Donald Domingo, were taken into custody in connection with Chee’s beating death. During questioning, the suspects told detectives that they and Chee had been taking the mouth wash and hand sanitizer shots.
On Feb 21, 2012 officers were dispatched to Fifth and Marquette on a report of an unconscious woman. When they arrived they found Evangeline dead. Next to her were two bottles of mouth wash she had been consuming. Her cause of death remains under investigation.
The trend has been common amongst transients. It is popular because homeless shelters allow the products inside their facilities as a hygiene product, it is cheap and retailers do not put it behind counters.
In the upcoming weeks, Albuquerque police officers will be meeting with grocery and drug stores asking them not to sell hand sanitizer or mouth wash to people who are showing signs of intoxication. They will also be passing out fliers educating retailers of the new trend.
Under state law, retailers are prohibited from selling beverage alcohol to customers who are intoxicated. The law does not apply to non-beverage alcohol such as hand sanitizer and mouth wash. In the months to come, Albuquerque police officials will meet with local legislators to see if a law could be applied to curb the trend.