U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is calling on the representatives of the Caribbean wing of the Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms agency and the Center of Disease Control to join the Federal Bureau of Investigations to investigate the series of mysterious deaths in the Dominican Republic that claimed the lives of approximately a dozen victims, including a mother from Queens.
Donette Edge Cannon of Lefrak City, a mother of four, was one of three New Yorkers who died on the Caribbean island under strange circumstances, according to Schumer’s office.
Over the course of a year, nearly 70 tourists reported symptoms of diarrhea, fever and vomiting after spending time on resorts on the island, according to the NY Post.
Those symptoms also befell Edge Cannon before she died last year while she was on a vacation with her cousin in the Dominican Republic, according to a 2018 CBS report.
One working theory is that tainted alcohol might be the culprit, according to a recent Vice News report.
“Given that we still have a whole lot of questions and very few answers into just what, if anything, is the cause for the recent spate of sicknesses and several deaths of Americans in the Dominican Republic, the feds should double their efforts on helping get to the bottom of things,” said Schumer. “One way to lend critical expertise, especially as it relates to the possible theory of illegal liquor, is to include the ATF in the investigation.”
Schumer believes that with offices in Jamaica and the Bahamas, the ATF is uniquely positioned to help the FBI in their investigation.
“The agency is poised to assist the FBI with the questions around possibly-tainted alcohol and any related criminal activity,” said Schumer. “When it comes to the swirling questions on the use of certain chemicals, possibly linked to pesticides, the CDC should send down more folks who specialize in this kind of fact-finding.”
FBI agents are currently assisting with toxicology investigations on three cases, according to Schumer’s office. There is no public information as to whether or not Edge Cannon’s incident is among the three that is being examined.
The FBI could not be reached for comment.
Nearly 2.5 million Americans visit the island annually, according to Schumer’s office.
Despite the circumstances, there has actually been a drop in unusual deaths of visitors to the island from the United States, according to Pew Research. There were 13 reported unusual deaths on the island in 2018, which is lower than the 2015 high of 30.
However, the press surrounding the deaths has led to nearly 60 percent of tourists cancelling their trips to the island in late June, according to the American Society of Travel Advisors.
Schumer is hoping for a speedy investigation that would make a firm conclusion on the cause of the mysterious deaths in order to protect future travellers.
“Simply put, the sooner we get to the bottom of what is happening, the sooner we can be part of an appropriate response, but the first priority is for the feds to help get all the answers in hand, in a timely and thorough investigation. And that is where the feds can help better expedite this process for everyone,” Schumer added.