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Phuket hacks back drug “growers’ in Thalang

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET: Thalang police and district officers hacked open a path for progress in the war on drugs in Phuket by cutting down more than 60 kratom trees in Srisoonthorn yesterday.

Despite the trees being native to Southeast Asia, their leaves have been designated a controlled substance, in the same category as cannabis, since promulgation of the Kratom Act in 1943. The law made planting the trees illegal and ordered all existing trees cut down.

Local residents alerted officials to the presence of the trees after finding that teenagers in the area were stealing the leaves to make a popular party cocktail “4×100”, which was allegedly linked to the deaths of Canadian sisters Audrey and Noemi Belanger on Phi Phi Island earlier this year.

However, 4×100 is not considered lethal when made using the usual ingredients of kratom leaf extract, cough syrup, cola and ice, but the alleged addition of DEET in the Belanger sisters’ drinks may have introduced the tragic consequences.

“We pulled down more than 60 trees. The stumps of the bigger trees were treated with a chemical to prevent them from growing back, and the smaller trees were completely uprooted,” explained Chief Administration Officer Natchapol Khongkliang, who heads the drug suppression unit at Thalang District Office.

“Many households have kratom trees growing on their property. Some were growing them for personal use, but others were doing it to sell the leaves, which cost about 1,000 baht a kilogram,” he added.

Mr Natchapol vowed to continue pulling down kratom trees in the district as part of his war on drugs.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

 

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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