Tourist Killed in Psychedelic Ritual in Peru

Brit allegedly attacked Canadian with a knife, was killed
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2015 9:59 AM CST
Tourist Killed in Psychedelic Ritual in Peru
A man mashes up the ayahuasca vine to be used in a brew at Phoenix Ayahuasca.   (Phoenix Ayahuasca)

Phoenix Ayahuasca describes itself as "offering a safe and supportive place to experience plant medicines" near Iquitos, in the Peruvian Amazon. On Wednesday, things went wrong. Witnesses say a British man was killed during a bad trip after consuming a hallucinogenic brew at Phoenix Ayahuasca, which the Independent calls "an alternative health center." Authorities say Canadian Joshua Andrew Freeman Stevens, 29, killed Brit Unais Gomes, 26, in self-defense after Gomes allegedly grabbed a kitchen knife and attacked him as the two took part in an ayahuasca ceremony, per Reuters.

Ayahuasca—made from the ayahuasca vine and the shrub chacruna, per the BBC—contains the active ingredient dimethyltryptamine and is illegal in many countries, including the US and UK. But it isn't typically associated with violence, reports Reuters. In fact, it's known to help manage depression, per Time, and is considered a key spiritual and medicinal item for Amazonian tribes in both Peru and Brazil. In Peru, in fact, it's recognized by the government as "one of the basic pillars of the identity of the Amazon peoples." An officer says Stevens resisted the attack, then stabbed Gomes in the stomach and chest. He's now being held by authorities, though it isn't clear if he'll face any charges. (This tourist also died this year in Peru, and her family thinks tea is to blame.)

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