Devil’s Breath | How Dangerous is Scopolamine in Colombia?
You may have heard the stories, but hopefully you haven’t experienced Devil’s Breath before.
One commonly found drug in Colombia…
Drugs in Colombia? Tell me more, Jake!
No, these aren’t the fun kind of drugs. We’re talking about getting drugged in Colombia and then robbed. Potentially even killed. We’re talking about scopolamine, the drug that takes your “free will” and makes robbing you easier than ever before.
Is scopolamine a real danger?
Yes. 100%. If you’re going to South America, the ‘Devil’s Breath’ is something you have to pay attention to.
However, many a foreigner has lived in Colombia for years without getting drugged. Others had their drink spiked the first night they went out in Bogota or Medellin.
Personally, I have never been drugged. However, many of my friends did. Even a good friend of mine who has traveled Latin America and Colombia for years did.
Here’s his tale:
“I sat bolt upright in bed and looked around the dark room. She was gone.
I fell out the bed sideways and groped my hand along the table where my laptop was. It was gone, too.
Panic beat out the drowsiness in my body and I scrambled around to find my jeans and shoes. I managed to get them on and flew out of the door.
Once I took the first step on the stairs, my legs gave way. I stumbled and almost hit a guy coming up the stairs.
I had lived in the building for 4 weeks and had seen one neighbor. What were the chances of bumping into one at 4.30am after I had just been robbed?
He let out an amused “Wow!” and pressed himself into the wall to avoid me knocking him over. He probably thought I was drunk. I didn’t care, as I was trying to catch up with the bitch who drugged me.
I got to the main door, threw it open and dashed into the street. It was dead. I looked both ways. Nobody.
I made a half-hearted attempt to sprint down the street after an imaginary taxi that I imagined she was in.
My body was working but my mind was still dazed – there was no taxi, she was long gone.”
Doesn’t sound like too much fun to me! Getting drugged and then robbed to the tune of nearly $2,000 USD in electronics is a tough pill to swallow.
But…is it common?
Let’s find out. Below I’ll discuss everything you’d ever need to know about scopolamine in Colombia and all over South America in general.
What is Scopolamine?
First, let’s learn a little more about scopolamine and why it works. What is scopolamine? Well, that’s a tough one.
On the surface, scopolamine is used as a roofie. Criminals slip it into drinks or attempt to have their targets absorb the chemical through their skin. Once the effects of scopolamine kick in, victims tend to lose their free will.
Instead of being able to make coherent decisions, they find themselves vulnerable to whatever the criminal wants. Often times, this is passwords to bank accounts, sensitive information, and more.
Scopolamine can be extracted from a flower commonly found in Colombia. Many criminals in Colombia get their roofies by extracting scopolamine from this tree named, “borrachero.”
You can also buy scopolamine in the pharmacy to treat seasickness. The pharmaceutical version of the drug comes in a patch used to treat nausea and vomiting while at sea. It’s a motion sickness drug.
No matter how a criminal gets it, scopolamine is also referred to as the “Devil’s Breath” because skilled criminals don’t even require a victim to consume the drug. They can administer scopolamine without slipping it into your drink.
How Does Scopolamine Works?
Scopolamine Side Effects
So, what are the some common scopolamine side effects? It varies. As we all respond differently to pharmaceutical drugs, there’s a lot of different reactions to this roofie. The dosage plays a huge role, too.
Common pharmaceutical side effects include (source):
- Blurred Vision
- Fast Heartbeat
- Poor Coordination
- …And More!
>However, when used as a roofie, scopolamine offers different effects altogether. If the drug doesn’t completely knock you out, which tends to only happen at higher dosages, you’ll become submissive.
You will lose free will. The criminal will be able to tell you what to do, and you’ll obey. In this manner, the drug is not only good for knocking out victims and robbing them of their property, but can be used to steal from bank accounts and more.
Many times scopolamine will be administered and then the victim will go to an ATM or bank and unload their accounts for the criminal.
Other stories about scopolamine side effects have stated that victims robbed their own homes. They would empty out all their furniture into a moving van while the doorman at their apartment building watched.
The victim would seem coherent, so the doorman didn’t suspect anything was up. Then the criminals drive away with a moving van full of designer furniture, electronics, and cash.
How Common is ‘Devil’s Breath’ in Colombia?
The tree that naturally produces scopolamine is common throughout the countryside in Colombia. As such, it’s not difficult for people to get their hands on the roofie in this country.
While women may be concerned about men using the roofie to rape unsuspecting visitors to the country, the reality is far different. Attractive women often target male visitors who seem wealthy.
They meet these men at bars or on dating sites, and are quickly invited over to a guy’s apartment for a drink. The trap is set and when the man goes to the bathroom, the pretty Colombian girl slips some scopolamine in his drink – whether it be alcoholic or not.
A few minutes later, the man is incapable of stopping the girl from robbing his computer, camera, smartphone, and cash. For many male travelers, this equates to $2,000 or more in stolen valuables.
But, how common is it? Well, unofficial reports state that over 50,000 cases of scopolamine druggings take place in Colombia each year (source).
The reality is that number could be significantly higher. While I spend a lot of time in Colombia, I haven’t had an issue being drugged yet. However, three of my personal friends all have.
All of my friends had their laptops and smartphones stolen. One even ended up waking up in a ditch on the street. You can’t make this stuff up.
Getting drugged in Colombia is common, and it’s becoming more and more popular. Many poor girls are realizing how easy it is to slip scopolamine into a travelers’ glass and rob him blind.
How Concerned Should Traveling Gringos Be?!
Now, I don’t mean to free-monger here. More people go to Colombia and have the time of their life – than those who get drugged and robbed.
You needn’t be too worried about getting drugged in Colombia, but you need to take a few precautions.
First, never leave your food or drink unaccompanied in the country. Finish your drink or your food before you hit the bathroom. Don’t let your new friend or date order a drink for you. Be cautious.
Next, never go to bars and clubs alone. You’re much less likely to be targeted if you’re rolling with a friend or two.
Lastly, build a relationship with your apartment building or hotel doormen. Let them know that any friends or guests of your should not leave without you accompanying them. Give your doormen tips and food. They can offer a small layer of protection for you – if they like you.
And if you suspect a girl (or guy) may be trying to drug you, then stop speaking with him or her and leave. It’s not worth it – no matter how good looking they are.
Getting drugged in Colombia happens. A lot. Scopolamine is a real danger. However, with a little common sense, you shouldn’t have any issue.
Colombia is one of my favorite countries in Latin America, and well worth a visit. Just keep your guard up a bit when you’re having fun.