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!

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):

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Blurred Vision
  • Fast Heartbeat
  • Headaches
  • 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.

P.S: Headed to Colombia? Stay safe and save $40 off your first Airbnb rental by clicking here.

Click here to learn more!

4/5 (6 Reviews)
Jake Nomada

Travel junkie turned blogger. Location independent. From the Midwest, but often based in Latin America. Big on beaches, rumba, and rum. Addicted to the gym. Committed to showing a different style of travel - one that involves actually interacting with locals and exploring different cultures.

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Josh Bar - October 8, 2017

The stories are true.
I have been drugged and robbed in Bogota…
Long story short. Never accept drinks from anyone. Never leave your drink unattended. It helps if you have a travel buddy.

Vice has a good video on it.

    NomadicJake - October 8, 2017

    Yeah, that Vice video is really good. Almost as good as the one where they go to the coast to investigate the donkeys lol

Jakey - July 22, 2019

This happened to me last night. It came close to being a disaster for me, but luckily I remembered something about this page and had my wits about me and sent the bitches packing… But I am going to give a run-down here of how they do it and what red-flags to look out for. [Note the red flags were added POST this experience… obviously I wasn’t really aware of them when it was happening… They added up after the experience. That’s why I’m writing them now, so future potential victims know what to look out for.]

I matched with a very pretty, 19 year old blonde Venezuelan/Argentinian girl on Tinder going by Gene (apparently short for Genesis… but who knows).

Pretty normal conversation. She was more keen to meet up quickly than normal girls, which can just be a sign the girl is horny, but as I’m now aware can also mean something else… We transitioned to WhatsApp, and then she reverted back to asking for photos of me to feel safe, etc, that was all fine. She wanted to know where I live, which in my experience with normal girls isn’t unusual.

Flag 1 (pretty subtle – didn’t raise alarm bells at the time)
However then she asked me what I do. As soon as I told her I’d been in business and did some things (perhaps that might appear as if I had at least some money), she instantly wanted to meet up – and kept insisting her friend come. Some girls just need to have enough information to want to meet up, maybe they want to know you at least have a job, so ok. And her friend, I thought this was for safety reasons, so that was fine as well.

Flag 2 (pretty subtle – didn’t raise alarm bells at the time)
I couldn’t meet that night. But she was asking to meet after the event I was going to, which I suppose is pretty unusual as well… don’t most girls want at least a date to get to know you rather then meet for the first time late at night? But then again, some girls are just really horny… Anyway I wasn’t going to have the energy, so delayed to the next day

Flag 3 (pretty subtle)
I hit her up the next day and she’s keen to meet for coffee around 3pm. With her friend of course. She wants me to get the Uber for her. In my experience this is pretty normal here as well. The red flag was when I asked for her address to send the Uber to get her. Most girls I’ve met here just sent their address, I sent and Uber, and all was fine. However this girl quickly changed the subject, said she’d organise it, and asked if I could just pay her for the ride when the car arrived. Ooookaaayy I thought. That’s just a new one for me and I’m still getting used to this place and the customs. Fine, I just told her she’d have to show me the receipt. She agreed.

We meet for coffee. They both seem pretty cool, normal girls. We’re having a good time and a laugh. I paid for coffees. Not a huge investment, similar to the Uber, but no girl even attempted to offer to pay. Some girls here do, some don’t. (I like the former camp, but whatever).

Flag 4 (couldn’t realise at the time)
I eventually came to asking where they live in Medellin. Gene said Envigado. This was another retrospective red flag (as these all pretty much are). When I checked later, Gene obviously didn’t realise the receipt she’d sent had the starting address on it. And that was no where near Envigado. in fact it was about half an hour drive in the direct opposite direction north. Sure she might have been at a friend’s place or something, so I can’t speculate, but given what happened later, and the fact she never gave her address for the uber, it definitely throws another shadow over her.

Eventually I suggested having a beer or two on my balcony (it was just the afternoon.) They wanted to do it, do we got some beers together, and went back to mine.

Flag 5 (slowly arousing suspicions)
Gene suggested making micheladas (another red flag now I look back). Sure girls want to make drinks sometimes, so hard to know. But this is where you have to use your judgement I guess. We were having fun, good chats. But at this point I was drinking very, very slowly, and not much at all. The girls still both seemed really cool and friendly, but I decided to play it safe. If I felt anything weird from some small sips, then I’d really know something was up.

Flag 6 (suspicions growing)
The girls were drinking faster, and encouraging me to do so. I was just like, “I’m a slow drinker.”

Threesome suggestion
I was on the balcony with Gene. She’d been asking questions and we were talking away. Eventually I kissed her. Soon after that, Gene told me that both girls liked me. I thought that was pretty cool. Then she asked me which one I’d choose. Feeling a little cheeky I said both. Gene told me to ask if Flor (the friend who was inside at that point) was keen. So I did.

Soon after that we were in my room kissing and getting undressed.

This was where I really started to get alarm bells
The girls were into it. But then not into it. Tops came off, eventually I didn’t have much on at all. We were all kissing on the bed. The girls were playing with me in turns, which was pretty awesome. But they seemed to stop at the point their bottoms were going to come off. And anytime I got close to trying to move things further they instead were getting up, getting the drinks and literally feeding me the drink. Which I might add was always from the same glass.

One kept getting up after the other as well and disappearing for a bit, probably to spike the drink more.

More flags
I started noticing very subtle looks they were giving each other from time to time. It was a look as if they were expecting something to happen that wasn’t. This was because every time they were feeding me this drink and I was gulping it down, I actually wasn’t. I was taking it into my mouth, then pushing it back into the glass while pretending to swallow.

I also saw what I think were some subtle hand gestures I caught out of the corner of my eye when I was kissing one of them. And I think I saw one of them hand something to the other when they didn’t think I was looking.

Side note here. They were also pretending to drink from the same glass to build comfort with me. But by this stage I knew exactly what was happening and I wasn’t giving these bitches any chances.

The sexual activity wasn’t escalating because they had expected me to be out cold by this point. Their excuses (which were really lame) was that they were “hot” and needed more drinks hahaha. I said, why not take your clothes off if you are hot? They didn’t really have an answer to that one.

Full alert
After they kept trying to force me to drink, the last straw was when I said I wanted to get a beer. Gene tried to get me to stay in the room to fix the music while Flor went to the kitchen

Fuck this
I got up, told them this was weird and I was tired and wanted to go to sleep
Honestly, a small bit of whatever was in those drinks must have slightly got into my system because I did start feeling a little dizzy. I started drinking water like a horse, much to their dismay.

Fricking code red
When these girls caught an inkling that I might be tired, that was their indication that they thought the drugs were working. If I suggest someone leaves, normally they do. That is pretty normal. These girls started saying, “no we can look after you.”

Something about that seemed so diabolically sinister I was just like, no this is weird now. Get out. They tried and tried to stay. I opened the door and basically marched them out.

I told them at my gate that it was a dangerous game they are playing and that if it wasn’t me, and someone more aggressive in the same situation, they could have really been hurt. Flor didn’t say a word. Gene started making excuses about how she drank from the same glass. Weird… I never mentioned drinking or the glass I was drinking from…

Of many, many girls I have taken on dates here in Medellin, this was the only time something that messed up has happened. So on the whole I think it’s probably pretty safe. But if ANY of the shit I mentioned above starts happening – especially numerous of the Flags I mentioned, it might be time to kick the bitch to the curb, or else lose god only knows what. Peace.

    Jake Nomada - August 1, 2019

    Damn, man! Glad you’re alright and nothing too bad happened.

    I’d say you got pretty lucky, as most gringos down those drinks without second thought and end up robbed with the quickness.

    My rule of thumb is never meet a girl who wants to bring a friend, especially in Colombia.

    At best, she’s a pain in the ass. At worst, she’ll drug, rob, and potentially kill you.

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