Photo: Colombia Criminals Continue to Drug Victims with "World's Scariest Drug" - Scopolamine
What is scopolamine and why does is have Colombians handing strangers all their money?
Made from the Borrachero tree, scopolamine, also known as “The Devil’s Breath,” is being used by criminals to manipulate their victims.
When put into victims’ drinks or food, scopolamine - a tasteless, odorless, and colorless powder - allows criminals to easily manipulate their now “zombie-like” victims, who later “awake” having no memory of their loss of free will or how it is they lost all of their money and personal belongings.
A nurse at San Jose University Hospital in Bogota recently told Global Post, ‘They go out to a party and then wake up two or three days later on a park bench. They arrive here without their belongings or their money. Criminals also use scopolamine as a date rape drug.
In recent years the criminal use of scopolamine has become an epidemic. Approximately half of emergency room admissions for poisoning in Bogotá have been attributed to scopolamine. The drug is often slipped into drinks at bars and parties, but has reportedly been blown directly into unsuspecting people’s faces.
Though the drug is commonly used to manipulate unsuspecting victims, some of whom have been U.S. embassy employees and politicians, it does have legitimate uses in minute doses. When taken by those with Parkinson’s disease it can help with tremors, and it has also been used to treat motion sickness.
In larger doses scopolamine causes loss of free will and short-term memory loss by temporarily mimicking Alzheimer’s dementia. Victims have been admitted into hospitals by police under the assumption that they are having a psychotic episode.
In a recent Vice documentary, scopolamine was understandably referred to as “the world’s scariest drug.”
Even when victims are left relatively unharmed, they often remember nothing of the last few days, making it extremely difficult for authorities to catch the criminals administering the drug.
In 2012, Colombian police reported just under 1,200 cases in which criminals used scopolamine or similar drugs.