Methyl alcohol sold on internet lies behind deaths from bootleg booze
As the number of deaths from bootleg alcohol across Turkey reached 55, eyes were turned to alcohol substances and aromatic liquids sold on the internet.
The astronomical rise in the prices of alcoholic beverages has encouraged fraudsters and has led people to indeterminate liquids produced in illegal laboratories.
Methyl alcohol, which is highly fatal if consumed, is being sold in these illegal laboratories in the name ethyl alcohol, which is required to make alcoholic beverages.
Taner Demirtaş, a retired worker, died on Oct. 11 in Istanbul after drinking the whiskey he made at home with ethyl alcohol and aromatic liquid, which he bought online.
Thousands of products, whose content is not known and written on medical use as ethyl alcohol, are sent to homes by cargo thanks to online shopping.
The average price of fake alcohol sold in five-liter bottles is at least 140 liras ($18), according to daily Milliyet.
While ethyl alcohol belonging to a brand was found in Demirtaş’s house, the company owners have denied these allegations, claiming that the fraudsters have been making sales by imitating their packaging.
“There is the name of our company on the ethyl alcohol bought by a citizen who died of bootleg alcohol in Istanbul, but he did not buy it from us. No one has died from products bought from us,” a company official said.
Ahmet Aydın, a toxicologist from Yeditepe University, has said that methyl alcohol is easy to access, and if methyl alcohol is consumed, the acidity in the body increases.
“The acid destroys the nerves in the eyes at first,” Aydın said.
Ali Uğurlu, the chairman of the Chamber of Chemical Engineers, stated that this issue is both a social and a political problem.
“There is an exorbitant excise tax on alcohol. If people are going to make alcoholic beverages from ethyl alcohol in their homes, then this sale of ethyl alcohol should also be controlled,” Uğurlu said.
The tax on the national favorite raki, an anise-flavored spirit, has leaped by 443 percent in the past decade and the tax on beer by 365 percent.
A 70-centiliter bottle of raki costs around 170 lira ($22), taxed 234 percent over the original price.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry introduced a new regulation on the sale of domestic ethyl alcohol on Oct. 1.
According to the regulation, the sale of ethyl alcohol for domestic use will now be completely banned as of Nov. 1.