by Andrew K. Arnett

Recently, there have been a spate of news articles about the little known drug “Devil’s Breath.” Also known as scopolamine, the psychoactive drug was used back in September by robbers in Paris to control the minds of their victims, for the purpose of robbing them blind.

Three people were apprehended by Paris police on suspicion of robbing victims whilst hypnotized by the hallucinogenic drug scopolamine.

According to the Telegraph, two women, aged 42 and 59, approached unsuspecting victims in the cosmopolitan Belleville district and blew the “Devil’s Breath” into their faces. Once the drug took effect, the victims were rendered hapless zombies, submitting to the whim of their violators.

The victims would be taken to their homes, where they were commanded to hand over their money and jewelry. One Parisian lost €100,000, and according to police, dozens have fallen victim to the mischief of this demented trio.

Le Parisien reported:

The victims targeted, very often old, were accosted in the street by a first woman. This person claimed to be looking for a mysterious ‘Doctor Wang’ before being joined by her accomplice. They managed to isolate their victims, then got them to breathe in a mixture of plants on the grounds they had powerful curative qualities — even protecting them from misfortune.

A third henchman, 56, was arrested later. He is suspected of being the medicine man, mixer of the diabolical brew.

In a raid on the grifters hotel room located in the north-eastern suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis, police found a trove of pharmaceutical supplies including “various Chinese medicinal substances as well as weighing scales, filters and gloves”.

According to the police, the three suspects are part of a larger Triad-style criminal gang operating internationally.

Chinese authorities have informed the French government that the crooks belong to a nefarious Chinese criminal network which “acts around the world and specializes in mental submission with the aid of unknown products.” Other members are considered still at large, and actively sending millions of dollars back to their mob bosses in China. Possible affiliated gang members have been arrested in South Korea and China.

Confiscated passports reveal that the two women have recently traveled to Mexico.

International Problem

Scopolamine is a hallucinogenic drug commonly derived from South American solanaceous plants including belladonna and datura. It is also referred to as Maldemar, Burindanga, Zombie Drug and Devil’s Breath.

According to VICE News, scopolamine:

Is most often administered in liquid or powder form in foods and beverages. The majority of these incidents occur in night clubs and bars, and usually men, perceived to be wealthy, are targeted by young, attractive women.

In a 2013 VICE documentary, reporter Ryan Duffy refers to scopolamine as “the most dangerous drug in the world.” This is due in part to its ability to relieve a person of their self will, rendering them virtual zombies for manipulation.

The use of scopolamine by criminals is most prevalent in Colombia where it is slipped into drinks, rendering victims docile to the point of willingly emptying their bank accounts or submitting to prostitution.

The problem in Columbia, as such, is at near epidemic levels (approximately 50,000 incidents a year), prompting the U.S. State Department to warn their employees in Columbia that “to avoid becoming a victim of scopolamine, one should never accept food or beverages offered by strangers or new acquaintances or leave food or beverages unattended.”

Scopolamine is a tropane alkaloid derived from South American solanaceous plants of the nightshade family. Used medicinally to treat motion sickness and post operative nausea, scopolamine can cause confusion, hallucinations, and memory loss.

Scopolamine use dates as far back as the Spanish Inquisition and legends speak of Colombian Indian tribes who would dose slaves and consorts of dead chiefs to bury them alive with their owners.

Origins of Scopolamine

Scopolamine was first isolated in a laboratory by German scientist Albert Ladenburg in 1880 and by the turn of the century, until the 1960’s, was regularly used to assist woman during childbirth. In conjunction with Oxycodone and morphine, scopolamine acted as anesthesia by placing women into a “twilight sleep.” Scopolamine was brought to public attention by one Dr. Robert House who enthusiastically promoted its “truth telling” potentialities.

Before there was a Dr. Gregory House (played by Hugh Laurie in the hit TV show House), there was Dr. Robert House (played by himself in real life), and though he existed a century earlier, there is much that Robert House shares in common with his on screen doppelgänger, most notably, an obsession with detecting lies.

On the TV show, Gregory House proclaims “everybody lies,” and is convinced his patients are dishonest, even using the hospital’s fMRI machine to scan their brains for evidence of deception. The real Dr. Robert House was, in turn, obsessed with creating a “truth serum” that could be used in a court of law to convict the guilty, and exonerate the innocent. He found this truth serum in scopolamine, which rendered a “twilight sleep” by blocking the action of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine.

Dr. Robert House writes:

My attention was first attracted to this peculiar phenomenon September 7, 1916, while conducting a case of labor under the influence of scopolamine. We desired to weigh the baby, and inquired for the scales. The husband stated that he could not find them. The wife, apparently sound asleep, spoke up and said, ‘They are in the kitchen on a nail behind the picture.’ The fact that this woman suffered no pain and did not remember when her child was delivered, yet could answer correctly a question she had overheard, appealed to me so strongly that I decided to ascertain if that in reality were another function of scopolamine.

In 1922, Dr. Robert House used scopolamine in the interrogation of two Dallas prisoners and found their stories corroborated their original stories, thus indicating they were innocent. After submitting the results to the court, the two were found not guilty at their trial.

The media sensationalized this new found “truth serum,” but its use in chemically induced ‘narco-analysis’ was short lived. A few years later, it would be displaced by the safer and more consistent polygraph machine.