What if one day you wake up in a bathtub with your organs cut off, and you cannot remember anything. On the other hand, maybe you are on a street, showing a young woman the directions, and the next thing you know is you are in the middle of nowhere, without your belongings or money. You might find those stories are crazy and unbelievable, but in Colombia, these are daily experience. The drug named Scopolamine (Burundanga) is the real criminal hidden behind the scenes. With just a small dose of this extract, the victims will lose their free will and obey everything the criminal told them to do. “Every year in Colombia there are hundreds of reported cases of the criminal use of Burundanga” (Nick, 2012)[i]. Not only in Colombia, but also recently in Asia, there are sights of Scopolamine in many crimes with a rising frequency. This research will show you the dark side of Scopolamine and solutions to help you protect yourself from this deadly weapon. More than that, it also evaluates the potential of these solutions.
What is Scopolamine?
Scopolamine is also known as Burundanga or Devil’s Breath (on the streets of Colombia). This chemical is purified from the wild plant called Borrachero, which can be found in Bogota, Colombia. Its name The Devil’s Breath originates from the fact that with just a single breath, it can cause you hallucinations, give you weird dreams. Scopolamine turns the victims into a zombie-like state, similar to a kind of hypnosis. Those suffering from Scopolamine hallucinations will do whatever the others tell them to do. Under its effect, “Scopolamine blocks neurotransmitters that carry information to the part of the brain that stores short-term memory” said Dr. Camilo Uribe, a leading expert on the drug at San Jose University Hospital (John, 2013)[ii]. In another word, the victims’ memory won’t be created, “it makes people quite passive and easier to intimidate and control” (Nick, 2012). Because of its feature, the drug is used to treat from motion sickness, anesthesia in operation, laboring to the tremors of Parkinson’s disease. But normally, Scopolamine is more famous on the street, along with its horror stories.
Scopolamine crimes are so famed that it has its own verb to define – burundangear. This kind of crime has existed so long a time worldwide, especially in Colombia. “Last year, Colombian police reported nearly 1.200 cases of people victimized by criminals using scopolamine and other so-called zombie drugs” (John, 2013). The recent documentary of VICE has revealed stories about people being raped, robbed, and even stolen their organs. Demencia Black- a drug dealer – claim that he can drug someone within a second by blowing the drug into someone face. Scopolamine is usually slipped into the targeted victim’s drinks or blown in the face of the passengers, because the drug is colorless, tasteless and odorless. Stories about Scopolamine are endless.
Cases involve Scopolamine
Carolina-a victim – is still terrified about her experience with Scopolamine. There was a man approached her on the street and asked for directions, but since it was close by, she decided
to walk him there. Later, they went out for a drink together. Afterward, she can only remember taking him to her apartment and helping him ransack the place. She said that it was painful to lose the money but she was quite lucky, because she could have been raped or worse (VICE, 2012)[iii].
In China, Scopolamine gives a big hand in human – organ trading. Once I read about a girl who died because of a missing kidney. She went out for a drink in the middle of the night and she met some new friends. They partied all night and suddenly she felt dizzy and unconscious. In her blurry mind, she woke up, felt pain and found out she was in a bloody bathtub full of ice. There was a note said that she needed to call 911 immediately because her kidney had been cut off. She died on the way to the hospital. Fabian Yáñez – a journalist of Bogotá’s City TV – claim that there are deaths, kidnappings…every night in Colombia and the Colombian are used to those crimes. “In this context, Scopolamine cases seem quite normal” (Nick, 2012)
Circumstances cause up the problem
Scopolamine itself is not devilish, but in human hands (especially in the villains) it becomes the Devil’s Breath. It is our rapacity, jealousy, enmity… that turns Scopolamine into a deadly weapon. Look at Jessica Maria (a 21 years old prostitute) who has been using Scopolamine to rob her clients since she was 15. She had a rough child hood on the street so she has to fight every day to survive. Jessica said, “Everything about Scopolamine has to do about hurting people”, she hurts people because she has been hurt before and as her life was torn apart so she does not have to care anymore. (VICE, 2012)
Effect on the society
Every day, these kinds of crimes created a bunch of problems for the society. First of all, physical impact is concerned. Scopolamine is really poisoned because it has diversifying effects on human. With a small dose, Scopolamine can stop the brain from recording memory and if it is used consecutively, it can cause brain damage. Demencia Black said that 1 gram of Scopolamine is almost identical to 1 gram of cocaine, but with only 1 gram of Scopolamine, you can kill up to 10 people (VICE, 2012). If you have lager dose, it will make your heart beat faster; you will be more agitated and hostile. There are a lot of cases which the criminals were backfired and be attacked by their own victims. Over dose, it is fatal. Take an example as Luis Eduardo and his friend story. They were having party at a hotel and then the girls came. The next thing Luis could remember was waking up on a bench in a park so he went back to his hotel, but the employee claimed that Luis had took some people to his room and they had grabbed everything. About his friend, his body was found in another place; he died as a result of high tolerance.
Secondly, when the victims are under the drug effect, they intend to follow every command, even to carry out crimes. “I can give you a gun and tell you to go kill someone and you will do it” (John, 2013). Thirdly, the victims cannot remember the process of a crime or face recognition when they arrive at the hospital or a report station; making it hard to track down the criminals. Fourthly, Colombia tourism is suffering a lot from this. VICE states that Colombia
now is one of the highest kidnapping rates in the world. On the streets, in bars, at home, in the midnight or daylight… wherever you go, whenever you are, you can be burundangeared. “In Bogota and Cali, Burundanga is given to unsuspecting visitors in chewing gum, chocolate, drinks or dusted on pieces of paper” (Yukio, 2012)[iv]. Finally yet importantly, because of these kind of crimes people will soon doubt at each other. You cannot trust anyone and aound you is not safe anymore since everyone can drug you or may be kill you with this kind of stuff. As we can see, crimes caused by Scopolamine are dangerous and have strong consequences on the society from many aspects. Solutions to this problem are necessary and more urgent day by day.
Difficulty in eradicating problem
Even though Scopolamine crimes are serious and cause losses of human and material; however, it is hard to eradicate this complex. Originating from Colombia – kingdom of crimes and drugs – it is almost impossible to banned or wipe out Scopolamine because there will always be another undersurface lines provide it. More than that, Scopolamine is purified from a wild plant which grows everywhere in Colombia and some countries include Vietnam. That is the reason why Scopolamine is so pure and cheap, and can be easily found. More than that, Scopolamine is legal in most of the countries around the world because it plays an important part in medical purpose; therefore, it is hard to punish who stores or uses Scopolamine.
Most of the solutions for Scopolamine crimes are showing people how to protect themselves from this deadly drug. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada warn the travelers to avoid going to the countryside of Colombia while The Government of Canada suggests the tourist going to bars with their companies and be careful of foods or drinks, always keep them under your observation. (Yukio, 2012)
Adolf Thopil (2014)[v] wrote an article about Scopolamine on the Tecsys blog, he has shared some general safety tips for tourists who want to travel around Colombia. First, try not to be an eye-catching object by not showing expensive jewelry or fancy smartphone and only use electronic devices when you really need them. Second, when you need to use a cab, bring along your map and make sure the driver is taking you to the right place. However, if there is another one in the car, do not take it no matter what. Third, never go out alone, especially on an empty street or parks at night. The next thing you should always remind yourself is limit your contact, particularly with someone you do not know before. When strangers offer you something such as foods, drinks, even just a handshake, try your best to avoid those because some criminals may smear the drug on their skin or poison the food. The important part is when you are at the ATM, be careful if there is someone there before you, and not ever count the money outside the booth. These advices might sound easy and unnecessary but they sure will save you from getting into chaos.
EVALUATESolutions for Scopolamine are not much and most of them cannot solve the problem from its root. The Government of many nations, international websites, journals or even experts’ recommendation is only mention about warning, preparing for the people to protect them from dangers. The advantages are people will be aware of this kind of crimes and they can learn how to keep themselves out of troubles. For example, in Vietnam, people who have been through the situation choose to spread theirs words by mouth or on the internet to alert each other. This method turns out very helpful since people with real experience will have a full view and point out the necessary part. Nevertheless, the disadvantage is those solutions are only temporary, they are not the real way out. Keeping the people away from the crimes does not mean that the crimes are gone. Those crimes will be more delicate by time and eventually the preventing tips will not be useful anymore. But then again I have to agree with Adolf Thopil’s advices because even though you already have a lot of real solution to face or to solve Scopolamine problems, why not try to prevent them at the first place? If you are not an easy target, the criminal will not have a chance to drug you.
To sum up, this research paper shows you the real face of Scopolamine, how dangerous it is and giving you some safety tips so that you can protect yourself from this kind of crime.
[i] Nick, O. (2012) Burundanga Republic[Online] Available from http://www.theglobalmail.org/feature/burundanga-republic/115/ [Accessed : 3rd December,2014]
[ii] John, O. (2013) ‘Devil’s breath’ could be world’s scariest drug [Online] Available from http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/09/02/devils_breath_could_be_worlds_scariest_drug.html [Accessed : 2nd December 2014]
[iii] VICE. (2012) Colombian Devil’s Breath [Online] Available from http://www.vice.com/video/colombian-devil-s-breath-1-of-2 [Accessed : 30th November 2014]
[iv] Yukio, S. (2012) Is Scopolamine the world’s scariest drug? [Online] Available from : http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/324779 [Accessed : 10th December, 2014]
v Adolf, T. (2014) The world’s most dangerous drug. [Online] Available from http://blog.tecsys.in/the-worlds-most-dangerous-drug.html [Accessed : 12th December 2014]
Martin, D. (1998). HIV Drug Book. [Online] Second edition. USA: Pocket Books. Pp 235-237. Available from : http://books.google.com.vn/books?id=v8itp3BnM9gC&pg=PA235&lpg=PA235&dq=scopolamine+book&source=bl&ots=jSNfWSKKbK&sig=6AzqkiRn4uIjSiISeBFFW1a4kZY&hl=vi&sa=X&ei=CBV-VLroPJbc8AXkhoCwDA&ved=0CFkQ6AEwCA#v=onepage&q=scopolamine%20book&f=false [Accessed 30th November 2014]