Authorities in the Dominican Republic have invited the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to investigate the recent deaths of American tourists on the island.
The invitation is broad: American agencies can choose the timeframe and their investigation can include sending personnel to the Caribbean country, according to Pablo Espinal, chief of staff at the Dominican Republic Ministry of Tourism.
“They are welcome to perform their investigations in whichever capacity they feel that they need to,” Espinal told CNN. “We have nothing to hide.”
The Dominican Republic’s attorney general is waiting for a response from the ATF and the CDC, Espinal said.
CNN has reached out to both agencies.
At least 10 Americans have died in the Dominican Republic since June 2018. The most recent death was a New York man who died after a sudden illness in June, his family said.
Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York tweeted on Sunday that he wanted ATF and CDC experts to figure out why so many tourists have died in the country.
“With the spate of sicknesses & deaths of New Yorkers & Americans vacationing in the Dominican Republic,” the Senate minority leader said on Twitter. “The federal government must double its efforts on getting to the bottom of things.”
José Tomás Pérez, the country’s ambassador to the US, responded with a letter obtained by CNN and sent to heads of US agencies – including U.S. Attorney Bill Barr, FBI Director Chris Wray, ATF Director Thomas Brandon and CDC Director Robert Redfield – formally inviting their agencies to the country.
The FBI already has a team in the Dominican Republic assisting with toxicology tests of three American deaths, some of which could be related to alcohol.
Those tests are still pending, Espinal said, though he pointed out that Dominican authorities have not found evidence of tainted alcohol contributing to the deaths in their investigations.
But, although American tourism doesn’t appear to have dipped, authorities are hoping to quickly quell any fears potential travelers may have.
“Anything that any agency of the United States government thinks or feels that is necessary for them to investigate to assure U.S. citizens that the Dominican Republic is a safe destination then they will count with our full support,” Espinal said.
CNN’s Christina Maxouris and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.