Two Canadian sisters who died on Phi Phi island in June had ingested the insect repellent DEET, indicating they may have drunk a variation of a local "cocktail" popular in the southern provinces known as 4×100. The ingredients of 4×100 are usually kratom leaf extract, cough syrup, cola and ice.
A more potent version, 8×100, contains longkong leaves, cola, ya bah (methamphetamines), cough medicine, florescent chemicals from tube lights, tobacco, yoghurt — and mosquito repellent (or ground-up mosquito coils). (Phuket Gazette)
These cocktails and variations of them have been a scourge on the southern provinces for years — particularly among youths — but I've never heard of them being made and sold to tourists. I also wasn't aware their use had spread to Phi Phi. In 2009 the Phuket Gazette reported that use hadn't spread to Phuket. This may have changed now.
Whether or not the two women knew what they were drinking, assuming it was some variation of 4×100, remains to be seen, but this should serve as a stark warning for anyone considering dabbling in these cocktails.
Reports of 4×100 in the southern provinces date back to 2004 and the authorities have really struggled to keep its use under control. Kratom leaves are a controlled substance in the same category as cannabis.
4×100 has also been linked to the southern insurgency:
A drug investigation in Yala turned deadly on August 24th, when police got into a gunfight with three men preparing a batch of the locally popular drug cocktail known as "4×100", killing one heavily armed man and wounding and capturing two others.
Raman District Police investigator Lieutenant Colonel Tian Thongsomsri said investigators took action after receiving a report that a group of men with possible links to the insurgency were producing the drug in the subdistrict of Kalor.
"4×100" was first recognised by Thai officials in 2004. Although various concoctions are known, all contain extract from leaves of the kratom tree as a key ingredient, along with a variety of other ingredients that typically include over-the-counter pharmaceuticals. The drug cocktail produces opium-like sedative and euphoric effects.
Although instances of "4×100" abuse have been reported across Thailand, they are most common in the Deep South where kratom plants thrive in the moist, tropical climate.
Peerapong said there are three main "4×100" formulas, all of which include kratom-leaf extract, cola and Xanax. Cough syrup, codeine or mosquito repellent is also added to the mix.
Another variation of this drink is also mix in ground-up mosquito coils as a cheap substitute for hallucination mushrooms, in English this drink is nicknamed “1-2-Call” after the very popular Thai cell phone provider. This drink has proved to be popular to young foreigners to us at the famous full moon party, unfortunately a toxic reaction to the mosquito coils is not uncommon. This was highlighted in May 2007 where five people died after drinking the mosquito coil drinks at the full moon party. Sometimes liquefied DEET that is common in mosquito repellents is also used in the cocktail. This practice is expected to continue as tourist areas are prone to large commissions without receipts with figures of authority.
Though the chemical is a potentially neurotoxic mosquito repellent, it is sometimes used as an ingredient to add an extra kick to a euphoria-inducing cocktail that is popular among young people in Thailand.
The cocktail known locally as 4×100 contains cough syrup, cola, ground-up kratom leaves, which are a mild narcotic, and ice.
It is thought that an overdose of DEET was accidentally mixed into the young women's drinks.
Large plastic buckets filled with different drink ingredients that are sipped through a straw are popular with Phi Phi partiers, who carry the buckets from place to place.
While it's possible that the sisters could have consumed the insecticide in a drink, it's also possible that the chemical was ingested in some other way.
All options remain open – unless the pathologists who performed the autopsy and the extensive tests that usually follow are able to say with certainty how the pesticide entered the sisters' bodies.
Any judgements in the case of the Belanger sisters are likely to be greeted by a call to reopen the casebooks on the earlier Phi Phi and Chiang Mai deaths.
The appalling tragedy of the Belanger sisters highlights yet again the need for Thai authorities to act fast and with absolute transparency in probing the deaths of tourists in Thailand.