Colombian Drug Turns Users Into "Zombies"

By McCarton Ackerman 05/15/12

Scopolamine, or "The Devil's Breath", eliminates free will and blocks new memories from forming.

devils breath_0.jpg
The Devil's Breath is made from the
Borrachero tree.
Photo via

Talk about scary. A drug derived from the borrachero tree in Colombia can wipe the memory of its victims and eliminate their free will, turning them into mindless "zombies." The drug, which is called scopolamine—known colloquially as "The Devil's Breath"—is surreptitiously added to drinks or blown into faces of victims. Its effects take hold in a matter of minutes and some victims report being raped, forced to empty their bank accounts and even coerced into giving up an organ. Worse still—scopolamine blocks memories from forming, so victims have no recollection of what happened even after the drug wears off. "You can guide them wherever you want. It's like they're a child," says Demencia Black, a drug dealer in the capital of Bogota. Black says that one gram of scopolamine is a similar to a gram of cocaine—but also calls the drug "worse than anthrax." It was given to the mistresses of dead leaders in ancient times; they would then be told to enter their dead lover's grave and be buried alive. In more modern times, the CIA used the drug during Cold War interrogations in the hopes that it would work as a truth serum. According to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, scopolamine—which has yet another alternate name: hyoscine—causes the same level of memory loss as diazepam. See Vice magazine's documentary on The Devil's Breath below.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.