There is a myth in Columbia involving a new drug with terrible consequences called “The devil’s breath”. The real name of this drug is scopolamine and it is derived from trees growing only in South America. In a Vice documentary from 2013, the drug was dubbed “the world’s scariest drug”. Scopolamine has horrifying effects on the human body, turning a person into a submissive zombie.

Ryan Duffy from Vice went to South America to learn more about the drug. He interviewed victims of the “Devil’s Breath” and dealers. One of the local drug dealers in Bogota claims that the most horrifying part about this drug is the administration, seeing it blown at the face of the victims and seeing the instant effects it has on a them.

Scopolamine wipes a person’s memory, so they have no recollection about the events under its influence. Throughout Columbia, there are stories about people being raped, having their back accounts emptied and willingly giving up organs! This effect makes the drug an ideal weapon for drug dealers, thieves and prostitutes, as Vice’s documentary explains. “They go out to party and then wake up two or three days later on a park bench,” says Maria Fernanda Villota, a nurse at San Jose University Hospital in Bogota, which receives several scopolamine victims weekly. “They arrive here without their belongings or their money.”

During last year, the Colombian police have reported 1200 of people victimized by local drug lords or dealers using scopolamine and the terrifying effects it has on a person. The victims vary from high-profile politicians to the average Colombians. The main problem is that the drug is widely available, as its metabolites can be found in jimson weed, angel’s trumpets and corkwood.

Scopolamine is a muscarinic antagonist that works by blocking acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter. This results in depression in the central nervous system. There are not many treatments available, besides treatment of motion sickness and treatment of symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

The CIA has been accused of using the drug to their own advantages in the 1960s, including it in various behavioral-engineering programs. This is thoroughly explained in John D. Marks’ book “The search for the Manchurian Candidate”.

The Vice documentary on “The devil’s breath” is a must watch for everyone. When asked about his experience while filming the documentary, Ryan Duffy explained:

“When VBS initially asked me to go down to Colombia to dig into this Scopolamine story, I was pretty excited. I had only a vague understanding of the drug, but the idea of a substance that renders a person incapable of exercising free-will seemed liked arecipe for hilarity and the YouTube hall of fame. I even spent a little time brainstorming the various ways I could transport some of it back to the states and had a pretty good list going of different ways to utilize it on my buddies.

The original plan was for me to sample the drug myself to really get an idea of the effect it had on folks. The producer and camera man flew down to Bogota ahead of me to confirm some meetings and start laying down the groundwork. By the time I arrived a few days later, things had changed dramatically. Their first few days in the country had apparently been such a harrowing montage of freaked-out dealers and unimaginable horror stories about Scopolamine that we decided I was absolutely not going to be doing the drug.

All elements of humor and novelty were rapidly stripped away during my first few days in town. After meeting only a couple people with firsthand experience, the story took a far darker turn than we ever could have imagined, and the Scopolamine pranks I had originally imagined pulling on my friends seemed beyond naive and absurd.

By the time we were wrapping things up and preparing to leave the country, I couldn’t wait to get as far away from Colombia and that drug as possible. Apologies for a fleeting moment of sincerity, but looking back, I’m pretty proud of the work we did down there. This story, and the people who tell it, truly deserve to be heard.”