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Australians drugged, raped and robbed at Thai beach parties (kratom)

  1. Basoodler

    Bangkok: Young Australians partying on beaches in southern Thailand are drinking a potentially deadly drug cocktail made from a local leaf trafficked by criminals who prey on them when they are under its influence, Australia's official representative in the area warns.

    The drug, kratom, is often mixed with the insect repellent DEET as well as cough medicine, cola and ice, leaving users in a stupefied and vulnerable state, says Larry Cunningham, Australia's honorary consulbasedinPhuket.

    The victims of rapes, assaults and thefts committedat Thailand's beach rave parties usually failed to report the crimes to police, he said, leaving the extent of the problem largely unknown.

    “What do you do if you are out of it from taking this stuff and you are dragged away in the night and raped by a pack of Thai guys?"

    Kratom is a tree in the coffee family that grows in abundance in the jungles of south-east Asia. Its opiate-like effect and low cost has led to rampant trafficking in tourist areas. Twenty leaves is enough to create a kratom cocktail for several people and costs the equivalent of $3.

    The drug has been banned in Thailand since 1943 but Justice Minister Chaikasem Nitisiri has proposed legalising it, saying its use may detract from people using drugs like methamphetamine and crystal-meth.

    Kratom was used as a traditional medicineinthe past,” hetoldThaijournalists last week.

    In an interview on the eve of his retirement after eight years in the job, Mr Cunningham said Australian parents wouldbe shocked to know how Thai criminals target young Australians and other foreigners at parties like those on Koh Phangan, an island where each full moon up to 30,000 ravers cram into one kilometre of beach, sipping cocktails from buckets.

    “They are some of the worst criminals in Thailand ... rapists, murderers and thieves and some are corrupt police,” he said.

    Mr Cunningham said one young distressed Australian woman turned up at the Australian embassy in Bangkok wearing only a T-shirt and bikini. She had been pack raped and had all her valuables stolen during a party and someone had put her on a bus to Bangkok.

    Mr Cunningham criticised the portrayal of the parties by Fairfax Media travel writer Ben Groundwater as “glorious debauchery” and his strong advice was for people to stay away.

    “These are dangerous, dangerous places … even groups of revellers are targeted by these criminals,” Mr Cunningham said.

    “Previously the buckets contained mixes like cheap Thai whiskey but now drinkers have no idea what is in there,” he said.

    Dozens of revellers are usually ferried to mainland hospitals after each party on Koh Phangan, suffering a litany of ailments and injuries.

    Last New Year's Eve, 22 year-old British tourist Stephan Aston was shot dead as he danced with friends at a waterfront bar.

    Ten foreigners have died in mysterious circumstances since 2009 at Thai holiday destinations, including Canadian sisters Noemi and Audrey Belanger, who were found dead in their hotel on the southern island of Phi Phi in 2011.

    An autopsy report into the deaths has not been released but authorities say the likely cause was a deadly cocktail mix.

    Mr Cunningham, 64, has led criticism of jet ski, taxi, motorbike and other scams targeting tourists on Phuket, which prompted a crackdown by an elite police unit, the Department of Special Investigation.

    But Mr Cunningham said many of the more than 20,000 Australians who visited Phuket each month came to Thailand thinking they could do here what they could not do at home, including breaking laws.

    “They get plastered and walk around with their shirts off and jump on motorcycles drunk,” he said.

    Mr Cunningham said that about half of the average 50 deaths of Australians on Phuket each year were avoidable, including deaths from traffic accidents and falling from high-storey hotels.

    He said while the Department of Foreign Affairs website carried warnings for travellers, more ways should be found to publicise risks in places like Phuket.

    “We have got to get the message across that people shouldn't leave their brains behind when they come to Thailand."

    Mr Cunningham said he will live forever with the “wailing” of relatives who have come to Phuket to take home the bodies of their loved ones.

    “It's just heartbreaking to see."

    Australian travellers should take out medical insurance and be aware of what the policy covered, he said, recounting the story of an Australian who suffered a fractured skull while riding a motorbike on Phuket.

    As the hospital bills grew to $60,000, his insurance company in Australia refused to pay because he did not have a motorbike licence in Australia.

    The man's father, who was about to retire, had to take out a loan to pay the hospital.

    “Many travellers don't know these things ... stories like these should be on the front page,” Mr Cunningham said.

    Mr Cunningham said that in retirement he planned to spend six months of the year in Sydney and six months in Phuket, where he owns the five-star Chava resort on Surin beach.

    Australia has advertised for a new honorary consul for Phuket.




  1. Moving Pictures
    this article seems more anti-alcohol/anti-thai than anti-kratom. Kratom is fairly disgusting to drink so I doubt these girls are getting raped just by having some kratom tea. They are probably going buck wild on booze and then it's happening.
  2. Basoodler
    I figured this article made to be "push back" on some legislation that would make kratom legal.or atleast the kratom refrence.

    Ok DEET -( a neurotoxin) is probably getting on the kratom via mosquito fogging. Although I'm sure at high enough doses would cause seizures and classic nerve gas symptoms..like twitching like crazy, losing motor control, and general malice

    Of all of the drugs available, why use DEET?
  3. ianzombie
    They dont, its just media nonsense. Ive yet to see anyone prove it has been added to the blend.
    What is added however is cough medicine containing codeine, this is what is causing anyone to get drousy especially when combined with alcohol.
    I notice there are no links to any of these supposed 'pack rape' stories, or any evidence of this drink being tested. It comes across as anti kratom and pretty racist too.
  4. idfma
    "We have got to get the message across that people shouldn't leave their brains behind when they come to Thailand." That may be the only accurate statement in the article. Other than that it seems like a string of tragedies for which we are given no real cause but a bunch of baseless speculation about drinking out of buckets, gang rapes and dying tourists. The references to kratom seem completely unrelated to the incidents described--at least the article makes no explicit connection.

    Mr. Cunningham seems kind of unrealistic too. I've never been to Austrailia, but I heard that they do quite a bit of drinking, running around with their shirts off, and jumping on motorcycles right there at home. Have I been misled?
  5. enquirewithin
    There are numerous articles in the Thai press about kratom being mixed with mosquito repellent as way of making it more potent-- how true they are is difficult to say.

    I wonder how many drinks Larry Cunningham had ahas before coming out with all his tales about Thailand?
  6. Basoodler
    I take it that austrailains take "destination vacations" in thailand in about the same way that americans go to mexico or the caribbean. Generally in places like Cancun mexico the resorts are are secluded from the general population.. some even being behind walls. I dont consider it racist to seclude guests if there is a high probability of crime. Nobody wants to really with that sort of think on vacation.. they will simply go to a safer location if need be

    I take it that its not the case in thialand? Anytime you have drunk people with money stumbling around a general population facing poverty you are bound to have robberies.

    Hell, it happens in any country really. One of my buddies was "rolled" outside of florance italy by a taxi driver who took a short cut to a secluded area. He oddly enough had a taxi driver in guatamala try the same thing (the driver wasn't able to get him alone in the car, and the other passenger was a big big boy, after a confrontation the driver just left them). Its not like its something unique to thialand.

    The gang rape claims sounds sensationalist. Do they report those rapes in the austrailan media? Or is he shooting from the hip with those claims?

    (Is phuket pronounced "fuck it"? Lol)
  7. ianzombie
    Poo Ket

    Along with Thailand, bali is another of the main tourist destinations for Australians.
    Seems they just want to follow the kratom trail where ever it leads :)
    Being that it is illegal in Australia i dont blame them either.
  8. enquirewithin
    If you bring drugs into a story it adds some sensational value. Thailand used to be quite a destination for heads at one time, with plentiful weed around, meth and opiates in the North, magic mushrooms at Kho Pahngan Full Moom parties and so on. After Thaksin's war on drugs that stopped. There are more ordinary hard drinking tourists.

    Thailand is fine country but Phuket is my least favourite destination.
  9. flup
    surely drinking anything from a bucket you didn't see mixed in front of you and (i'm assuming) isn't constantly in view of yourself or someone you trust is the risky behavior here? why does the article give the impression that that is not a major concern?
  10. Basoodler
    So far forensic examinations have. concentrated on the possibility that the sisters might have drunk a version of the teen narcotic drink See Koon Loy, with the insect repellent Deet added to it.

    See Koon Loy normally consists of ground-up kratom leaves and prescription cough mixture mixed with cola and ice, though many other ingredients may be added.

    News reports have said that Thai forensic scientists concluded that the sisters were possibly killed by an overdose of Deet – maybe a mistake by the person who mixed the “cocktail” for them.

    News reports in Canada, however, say the Canadian scientists disagree; they detected Deet in the women’s bodies, but not in high enough concentrations to cause discomfort, let alone illness or death.

    Dr James Moss has proposed a different hypothesis to The Phuket News: that Deet has “beta adrenergic agonist activity”. In layman’s terms, this means that Deet by itself, and See Koon Loy by itself, would not kill.

    But the two in combination might.

    Dr Moss has done considerable – and initially controversial – research on the beta adrenergic agonist activity of Deet as part of his quest to explain Gulf War Syndrome, a cluster of as-yet-unexplained illnesses affecting US soldiers involved in the First Gulf War in 1991.

    About one third of the 697,000 servicemen and women involved in that war still live with Gulf War Syndrome.

    Dr Moss proposed a theory, which he attempted to back up with research, that the syndrome was caused by a combination of Deet the soldiers sprayed on themselves as mosquito repellent and Pyridostigmine Bromide pills, given to soldiers as an antidote to nerve gas. The Americans were worried that the Saddam Hussein regime of Iraq would use nerve gas against US troops.

    Dr Moss’s employer, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), did not like the way this was heading – if he could prove his theory, it might lay the US government open to suits for compensation totalling billion of dollars.

    When he pursued his research despite its disapproval – and testified at a televised US Senate hearing despite being told not to talk to anyone about his research – the USDA decided not to renew his contract.

    “I attempted to confirm my suspicions that Deet had some adrenergic activity, using rats,” Dr Moss told The Phuket News.

    “I found that adrenergic agonists and antagonist drugs had potent effects on the time to convulsions from a fixed dose of Deet.

    “One drug reduced the time to convulsions from 40 minutes to less than one minute (the animal died while I was setting down my instruments, probably from cardiac arrest).

    “Another time, with a lower Deet dose and the same drug, the time to convulsions was reduced from 60 minutes to 15 minutes. The drug was yohimbine.”

    Yohimbine is, according to Wikipedia, “structurally related” to 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine, two of the active ingredients found in kratom. That said, Wikipedia adds that “ their pharmacology is quite different”.

    But, Dr Moss says, “The kratom leaf suggested by the press as part of something possibly consumed by the sisters Audrey and Noemi Belanger, seems to contain some of the same adrenergic activityI tested 15 or so years ago.

    “At least one kratom chemical, Tetrahydroalstonine, is anti-adrenergic at alpha-2 receptors, like yohimbine.

    “I did not collect enough data to publish this, but if my other Gulf War chemical hypotheses can serve as a model, I’m probably right.

    “This is (one) reasonable explanation for the death of these girls that can be verified fairly easily.”

    The Phuket News asked Dr Moss whether a combination of kratom in the drink and Deet on their skin could have caused the sisters’ deaths.

    His response: “On the skin or in the drink, either way would work.”

    This opens up the possibility that the sisters, after spraying themselves with an insect repellent containing Deet, headed out for an evening in Phi Phi village.

    ''Drinking See Koon Loy, with its cargo of kratom, might have sparked the violent and deadly reaction that the repellent on it own, or the See Koon Loy on its own, would not have.

    Both the Thai and Canadian governments have clamp a gag on information about forensic results. The Phuket News emailed the Canadian pathologist who carried out the autopsy on the sisters and received no response.

    It is understood that information on the results from the Canadian side was released by the sisters’ family, not the government.

    An official of Thailand’s Central Forensic Institute, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that she did not know where the reports saying Thai scientists had pinpointed Deet as the cause of death had come from.

    “Deet was only one element in the deaths,” she said, but she declined to give further information, adding that the gag order was still in place.

    Whether either set of forensic scientists will take heed of Dr Moss’s theory and follow up with solid research remains to be seen.

    Meanwhile, the tragic deaths of the two young women will remain a mystery.

  11. enquirewithin
    I now remember. See koon loy or 4x100 has been mentioned in a number of articles in the Thai press-- see this thread. I assume that is it really consumed by Thai teens. For example:

    However, some stories claim that mosquito repellant is added too. The Bangkok Post wrote about a man drinking 'cocktail of coke, cough syrup, boiled kratom leaves, and mosquito repellent.'

    Moss's theory is interesting but attributing the 'Gulf War Syndrome' to Deet seems hard to prove (DU and other US munitions seem a more likely though less politically acceptable reason).
  12. Basoodler
    One thing to consider about gulf war syndrome/deet is the delivery method. It is generally fogged a few times a day right through the area that the troops stay. So if you are eating or drinking your are ingesting deet orally. Not only food contamination but it also settles on mucas membranes, eyes ect. And everything not covered

    Although I am not sure why you would fog in kuwait or southern iraq.. there is no standing water for the most part

    One thing. He didn't mention was the use of the antimalarial drug Lariam/ Mefloquine, without going into much detail, it is an odd, odd drug.. it seems to cause chronic aggrivation and shorten the proverbial fuse to down right angry behaviour ..(with some people)

    I can seems depleted uranium munitions potentially causing problems, I just don't think a third of our troops being close enough to be exposed.

    Sorry for going off track.. that is a subject close to my heart

    Am I correct in my thinking on A1 and a2 receptor activity.. in that a1 agonists basically get your heart going which makes them good decongestants because the increase in blood opens airways..

    A2 agonists are associated with sedatives?

    So an antiadrenergic blocks the activity of both by hogging receptors.. aka alpha/beta blockers

    Actives in big spray generally have adrenic activity, but how is that relevant if kratom has alpha/beta blocking activity
  13. MikePatton
    I don't think Kratom alone can get a bunch of people drugged to a point where they are effortlessly robbed and raped. I took 50g of Kratom which is practically the highest dose you can hold down your stomach, and I was nowhere near as clueless as the people described in this article. For me, beyond a certain dose the effects of kratom no longer increase, and so it seems impossible to me for someone to reach that level of intoxication from kratom.
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