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Gay Men Who 'Party & Play' Risk Becoming Crime Victims, Police Warn

People enjoying a nightclub

Those who use methamphetamines and GHB and then participate in sex are vulnerable to a bizarre new crime of opportunism that can ruin somebody's life.

A troubling new crime is making its way into communities of gay men in the U.K. who engage in drug use with sex. As a result, British authorities warn that the LGBTQ+ community and those with developmental disabilities are at risk of being taken advantage of and having their lives ruined.

The British news site ireports on the dangers of cuckooing as the practice becomes more prevalent in LGBTQ+ communities who party and play or use drugs during sex (chemsex in Britain). It involves a carefully finagled criminal approach to take over someone's property to sell drugs. It had already been identified by police and local authorities as a drug gang method in many parts of Britain within heterosexual scenes.

Named after the opportunistic bird that takes over other birds' nests, lays eggs, and leaves them for other birds to hatch, cuckooing exploits the victim, often by offering them free drugs and gaining their trust.

Opportunistic drug dealers take over the homes of vulnerable people to use the residence as storage and distribution facilities. Some may use the home as a place to facilitate forced sex work and also to live. An intense level of financial abuse is shown toward the victim.

In Britain, it involves primarily men who have sex with men meeting in private homes for drug-fueled sex adventures. The outlet reports that crystal methamphetamine and the sedative GHB are popular with those who attend these soirees.

Among the dangers to the public are sexual violence, theft, and fraud, according to the chief of London's chemsex drug taskforce. The i report warns that bisexual and gay men with learning disabilities are the most vulnerable.

"Now, there are all the indicators that it is in the hands of serious organized crime [SOC]," Stephen Morris told the outlet. Morris organized the chemsex response within London's prison and probation service. "There's networks of people involved, with large amounts of money, weapons like tasers, things that you wouldn't expect to find outside the arena of serious organized crime."

He added that in recent years, "There are at least 14 victims of murders in London that have happened in the chemsex context."

Morris's group Project Sagamore works with criminal justice agencies, health care services, and LGBTQ+ groups to share data and trends around chemsex.

"This enables them to understand the techniques of these networks who, for example, cuckoo people on the chemsex scene," the i reports.

"They will go on to a [gay dating] app, they will target men who they perceive to be particularly vulnerable - and offer drugs or offer to organize a chemsex party," Morris explained. "If he agrees to that, then they invite other people around that they know, and before you know where you are, they are in charge of that person's property, hosting chemsex parties - 24/7 sometimes."

Morris said that some victims will be under the influence of drugs or make threats in order to control them.

These groups "have their grooming techniques down to a fine art. They will purposely plan to groom an individual over time, or they may do it very, very quickly, and move in," he said.

The Advocate reached out to representatives for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Drug Enforcement Agency to inquire about cuckooing in the U.S. but did not receive a response by publication.

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