The U.S. Department is under review for its investigation practices of Mexican resort deaths linked to tainted alcohol. Pixabay

The State Department is under inquiry for potentially failing to handle dozens of cases where U.S. tourists to Mexico say they’ve been given tainted alcohol that caused them to black out, get robbed and was even tied to a death in one case.

The U.S. Office of Inspector General opened an investigation into the State Department’s response to allegations that American tourists at Mexican resorts were drugged by potentially tainted alcohol that led to robberies, sexual assault and various other injuries. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, was sent a letter by Inspector General Steve Linick asking that the office examine its procedure for responding to such cases.

Sen. Johnson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, urged the Inspector General to open the inquiry in October. Dozens of people told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about the incidents at resorts in Cancun and Punta Cana in Mexico. Many have detailed how they drank one or two beverages before becoming completely incapacitated and then victimized.

In November, travel planning website TripAdvisor was accused of removing warnings about rapes and blackout-related deaths in Mexico.

Last January, Ginny McGowan said her daughter and Pewaukee resident Abbey Conner, 20, had been drinking tequila at the Iberostar Paraiso del Mar’s walk-up pool off Playa Del Carmen before both were found unconscious in the pool soon after. The 20-year-old Conner died after drowning and her brother survived, although he has no recollection of the events that led to hear death.

The resort refused to allow interviews of bartenders and other staff or for viewing of surveillance footage. Local police in Mexico were reluctant to investigate at all, labeling the incident an “accidental drowning.” Mexican authorities disclosed this summer that 16 Americans had drowned In Mexico during the first part of 2017 -- but Conner's death wasn't even included in the tally.

“Once we have assessed that information we will determine whether additional work is warranted,” Linick wrote in the letter dated Tuesday.

The State Department keeps very few statistics on deaths of Americans, instead relying on Mexican law enforcement officials to provide such data. Given that they don’t track related injuries in the region, it’s not possible to catch onto trends.