This interesting chemical is alternately known as “the most dangerous drug in the world” and “the scariest drug in the world.”
Devil’s Breath is a powerful drug that is currently being dealt with on the streets of Columbia. It’s a strong hallucinogenic and an amnesiac. It’s highly addictive and can be deadly.
Usually in the form of a powder, Devil’s Breath comes from the borrachero tree, a botanical in Columbia with a name that loosely translates into “the-get-you-drunk” tree. This plant blooms with deceptively beautiful white and yellow flowers.
The drug is said to be so powerful that within minutes of administration, people turn into zombie-like creatures. The victims remain coherent, but they become child-like and have no free will.
Columbian drug gangs are using this drug, and its interesting side effects, as an innovative and lucrative new business, and stories of victims of these gangs are becoming urban legends.
People have been raped, robbed, forced to empty bank accounts, and even coerced into giving up body organs while under the drug’s influence. One man even killed while under the influence.
The substance is odorless, tasteless and is especially easy to administer either by inhalation or ingestion. In large doses, it can be deadly.
An often-used method of administration is to blow the powdered drug into the face of a passer-by on the street. Within minutes, the victim is under the drug’s influence and loses all capacity for rational thinking. The victim is turned into a complete mental zombie and the memory process of the brain is blocked.
While under the influence, the victim is easily controlled by suggestions and verbal commands to perform unspeakable acts. People have even been known to help robbers steal valuables from the victims’ own homes or hotel rooms.
After the drug wears off, victims have no recollection of what happened, what they did under the influence and cannot even identify the people responsible for administering the drug in the first place.
Interestingly, in ancient times the drug was administered to the mistresses of dead Columbian leaders. The women were given the substance, told to enter their master’s grave and were then simply buried alive and forgotten.
As with many botanical substances that are used for illicit purposes, this chemical also has beneficial effects. In fact, the chemical is marketed in the United States under the name scopolamine and hyoscine. Cruise ship travelers might even use this chemical in the form of a scopolamine patch for seasickness.
So, for a very unique method of controlling a character in your novel (or possibly your spouse), blow a little Columbian Devil’s Breath into their face. They’ll never remember what was asked of them or what they did as a result.
Thoughts? Comments? I’d love to hear them!
Woa, is this for real? You’re right that the possibilities for fiction are tremendous, but I’m stuck on simple terror for how this substance could be abused in real life!
Yes, for real! Scary to say the least. I was so intrigued that I had to plot out a short story about this drug, but I think it’s going to turn into a novella — maybe an anchor story for a trilogy of Murder, Mayhem and Medicine!
All the best to you.
From the picture of the tree used to illustrate this article, I assume the plant is some form of datura, right? In ancient times the seeds, flowers, and leaves of this plant were used to create hallucinogenic states. Along the Rio Grande in southwest Texas is wonderful rock art dating to at least 4,000 years ago with drawings of datura pods. As I understand it, the chemicals in this plant are highly toxic. It grows wild in many places and is totally unregulated by the DEA, I might add. Thanks for another great blog post, James.
Yes, you are very close, Mary, and that’s a very good observation. Some South American plants were thought of as Datura, but these are now identified as belonging to the distinct genus Brugmansia. Brugmansia differs from Datura in that it is more woody and become small trees, and it has pendulous flowers rather than the erect ones of the datura. The tree in Columbia that I referred to in the blog is believed to belong to the Hyoscyamus genera.
Thanks for your most interesting comments and observations. Your mind is a botanical encyclopedia. 🙂