Rumors are circulating in Colombia of a dangerous drug called the “Devil’s Breath” that’s local and has some calling it the “world’s scariest drug.” The risky narcotic is said to turn its victims into zombies, without any cognitive control over their actions, leaving them vulnerable to their surroundings.
The drug’s real name is supposedly scopolamine and it’s an anticholinergic drug, which means it blocks a specific neurotransmitter in the central and peripheral nervous system. Since it’s used mostly in sketchy scenarios and isn’t widely distributed as a recreational narcotic, doctors haven’t quite been able to test exactly what it is.
Most speculate that it is indeed scopolamine, which is a substance derived from the “borrachero” tree in South America.
Vice’s Ryan Duffy flew to South America in an attempt to talk to locals and learn more about the drug, and what he found was even worse than most thought. He interviewed those who have been victims of the drug and healthcare professionals that have treated the victims and the results are scary, to say the least. One nurse from San Jose University Hospital in Bogota, Maria Fernando Villota, said they receive several patients that have fallen prey to the drug every week. She said,
“They go out to party and then wake up two or three days later on a park bench. They arrive here without their belongings or their money.”
One victim, Andrea Fernandez, last remembers holding her newborn son on a Bogota city bus before being taken in by police three days later. She had been walking topless and muttering on a busy highway’s median; her son was missing and she had been badly beaten.
“When I woke up in the hospital, I asked for my baby and nobody said anything. They just looked at me,” Fernandez said, sobbing. Police believe her son Diego was taken by a gang that traffics infants.
The drug is frightening because it’s transmitted very easily, sometimes by blowing it into someone’s face or handing them a drug-laced business card that absorbs into their skin and overtakes them immediately. People feel the effects instantaneously and can be convinced to do anything, from giving away their baby to helping robbers steal everything they own.
Rumors have even indicated that some people have even woken up and found that they have had organs taken from them or realized they were rented out as prostitutes or gang raped. In ancient times, mistresses of dead Colombian leaders were given the drug and willingly climbed into their masters’ graves, where they were buried alive.
Devil’s Breath blocks the formation of memories so that there’s no chance that the victim will recall what happened to them. It essentially gives the person amnesia, and whatever is taken from the person, whether it be a baby, organ, or jewelry, is rarely ever recovered.
Use of the drug is often limited to criminals and seems to be contained in Colombia, with a few reports of incidents in Paris, but people should always be on high alert so they aren’t targeted.