L.A. Dance Music Pioneer Mark Lewis Suspected of Drug Smuggling in Korea

Mark Lewis DJing at Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto club night in Las Vegas
Mark Lewis DJing at Paul Oakenfold's Perfecto club night in Las Vegas

L.A.-based Mark Lewis, a British DJ who was one of the first artists to bring rave culture to the United States, was arrested in South Korea this summer for alleged drug smuggling, according to a news report. A source close to Lewis who asked not to be named has confirmed his arrest to L.A. Weekly.

Police in South Korea say they have video of Lewis at an Incheon International Airport customs checkpoint with a 1.5-liter water bottle that contains the drug gamma hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, according to the report in the Korea Times.

The substance is popular in the rave and after-hours scenes, but it's perhaps best known as "the date-rape drug" as a result of its sedative properties. It also has long been used by bodybuilders as a post-workout elixir.

The arrest was announced yesterday but was made in June, according to the report. The last post on Lewis' Twitter page, from July 3, apologizes for not showing up at a Westside event. He blamed food poisoning.

Lewis is suspected of smuggling a total of 3.78 liters of GHB over a span of four visits to South Korea, from January to June, police told the Korea Times. That amount was valued at $340,000 and is roughly equivalent to 1,000 doses, the report says.

Authorities suspect that the head of a Korean pharmaceutical company and his twin brother funded Lewis' travels to South Korea.

It's not clear if Lewis was still being held. We reached out to Korean authorities as well as to the South Korean consulate in Los Angeles but we could not reach anyone.

Lewis helped to bring British-flavored house music to Los Angeles and the Westside in the 1980s. He went on to become one of the city's earliest, most prominent club DJs, and he still performs frequently with U.K. star Paul Oakenfold.

His Soundcloud page says he has a DJ residency at club Octagon in Seoul.


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