The Vice of Colombia’s Scopolamine (Devil’s Breath) Drug


Above is a picture I took by a rural river in the central Colombian department of Cundinamarca. This plant, one that can be found all throughout populated and rural areas including Colombia’s capital, is becoming known for a particular vice. It is being used a drug to rob, rape and kill people. It has become a legendary story of a drug in itself. I myself have had no experiences of the drug nor have I known anyone personally affected by it. However Colombian’s are great at making thin stories sound real to them. Then again I may have simply fallen victim to it’s use and just not known about it. I have confidently never been on a “millionaire’s tour of Bogotá”, unwittingly clearing my account of cash from various ATMs around the city. Perhaps it’s use criminally is relatively low to even affect the usual visiting person.

Another interesting fact surrounding this drug and one that comes close to me is that, it’s first recorded criminal use was by a Hawley Harvey Crippen. Accused and found guilty of using it to murder his wife Belle Elmore (born Kunigunde Mackamotski to a German mother and a Polish-Russian father). He was trialled and executed at Pentonville Prison that is in the same area I am heavily connected with in London. You can read more into it by a London local blog post here, although the wiki article on Hawley Harvey Crippen gives a better look at the link between the murder and scopolamine.

The Scopolamine Route

During my frequent stays in and out of Bogotá, I have travelled extensively from and to the capital by road. Although the plant is very common, on no route around the capital have I passed so many fine Solanaceae plants (or otherwise known as nightshades), as on the route below. The most common verity I found being the Brugmansia (Angel’s Trumpets). You’ll find the bulk of plants at about the half way mark as you cross a large valley on your decent down to Choachi. Choachi does make a great day trip from the capital. There’s some hot springs and a traditional bullring there too.

My playlist of short videos.

During one of my stays last Year I thought I’d throw a few videos together to bring the plant to a few people. I’d get many questions from people asking me about the plant as a result of the Vice documentary embed at the foot of this post. Please be aware that this was in no way a professional documentary by myself. I am just using a standard compact camera with no script or anything. I am speaking off-the-cuff.

The Vice Documentary.

An excellent documentary by Ryan Duffy for Vice, even though it is a tad sensational. I am glad that they’ve put themselves out in Colombia. Although for the interests of the documentary and all the legendary talk throughout it, I would have loved it had they not chickened-out at the end and just taken a little of the drug. Then again you’d not get me taking it either.

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