[INTRO PLAYING]

RYAN DUFFY: Welcome to
Bogota, Colombia. We’re here chasing after the
most dangerous drug in the

world, burundanga.

Burundanga is the source of
scopolamine, which is basically like the worst roofie
you can ever imagine

times a million.

You’re at the whim of
suggestions like, hey, take me

to your ATM.

Hey, come with me to
the hotel room– while you’re completely
conscious and articulate. Apparently there is a lot of
different parts of the plant that are a bit dangerous,
possibly a bit fun, depending

on what you’re into.

So we’re going to be looking
for the tree, talking to people who’ve had experience
with it, and seeing if we can find some of the actual
drug ourselves.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

RYAN DUFFY: So the deal with
burundanga is that it pretty much eliminates your
free will. So you’re awake and
you’re articulate. And to anyone else watching
you, it seems like you’re

perfectly fine.

But you’ve completely lost
control of your own actions. So you’re at the whim
of suggestions. And that’s how people take
advantage of you. I’ve heard a bunch of different
stories really

running the gamut.

Some of them sound like campfire
horror stories you’re

told when you’re growing up.

Stuff like, waking up in a
bathtub with an organ cut out and a sign saying, you
have five hours

to get to the hospital.

We’ve of course also heard
that it’s used

as a date rape drug.

We heard one particularly
chilling story where a guy was taken back to his apartment,
woke up the next morning in an empty apartment completely
confused as to what happened. Went down and said to his door
man, you know, why is my

apartment empty?

What happened?

The doorman said, well, you
brought it out with two of

your friends last night.

All your stuff, you loaded
it into a van. And the guy was like, why
in the hell would

you let me do that?

And he was like, because
you told me to. So that’s kind of the stuff
we’re dealing with here, complete elimination of free
will while still acting which is pretty much the scariest
shit I can imagine.

[PLAYING MUSIC]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: Columbia’s
basically fucked. They had the longest running
guerrilla war in

all of Latin America.

They’ve essentially been at
civil war for 60 years. And really if you think about
it, they’ve never not been at war since they gained their
own independence. Other fun facts about Colombia,
definitely not from the Board of Tourism, include
the fact that one in every three kidnappings in the world
happen right here in Colombia. And as we all know,
it’s the cocaine

capital of the universe.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: Now the borrachero
tree, which by the way roughly translates to drunken binge
tree, is indigenous to the

Northern Andean region.

That includes Colombia, and
Ecuador, Venezuela. But the scopolamine is really
only used by the criminal

element here in Colombia.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: So despite the
insane homicide rates, the kidnapping, the narco
trafficking, the civil unrest, and everything else going on in
here in Columbia, we can’t seem to find a Colombian who’s
more scared of anything than falling asleep under the
borrachero tree. [MUSIC PLAYING IN FOREIGN
LANGUAGE] RYAN DUFFY: So far I’m
really into Columbia.

I showed up.

Beautiful women ordered
me dinner.

And it’s fantastic.

And they ordered a bottle
of whiskey to the table.

I might not go back.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: So it’s not
something that is popularly

done down here then?

RYAN DUFFY: Really?

Not at all?

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: Do you know people
that have been given

burundanga?

Do you have a cousin of
a friend of a cousin?

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: We’re here at the
Botanical Gardens on the

outskirts of Bogota.

We’re going to go see if we can
figure out what this plant

actually looks like.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

RYAN DUFFY: Those right there
are the flowers that we’ve

heard a lot about.

And you can kind of put those
in a tea and you’ll

hallucinate.

You can also take the root down
there, put that in a tea.

And again, you’ll hallucinate.

And then there’s the cacao,
which kind of looks like the

mini coconut of sorts.

That has the seeds inside.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: They actually just
crack the thing right there. And then this is where
the seeds are. I mean, that’s where everything
comes from, right?

SANTIAGO STELLEY: Yeah.

That’s what they use to actually
make the scopolamine. RYAN DUFFY: You’re
in business. The most dangerous drug
in Colombia and

arguably the world.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: The coke, at the end
of the day, I mean, with its obvious pitfalls and
dangers, is recreational.

SANTIAGO STELLEY: Yeah.

RYAN DUFFY: Whereas there’s
nothing at all recreational about what can be
made with this. It’s a distinctly criminal
element.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: The irony of sorts
is that it’s beautiful.

It’s a very nice plant.

And smells very nicely.

I’m enjoying this right now.

SANTIAGO STELLEY: Seems quite
Colombian all-in-all, very

beautiful and very dangerous.

RYAN DUFFY: This is pretty
much the symbol of

Columbia isn’t it?

If you didn’t know what you were
looking for, you’d walk right by and go, that’s
a pretty flower. Maybe I’ll pick it and
give it to my mom. But that would be
a real bad idea.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: So now we’re
here at the National

University of Columbia.

And we’re going to go talk to
Dr. Miriam Gutierez who heads up the toxicology department
here and apparently is an

expert on scopolamine.

We’re going to try and chat
with her a bit about what actually happens when someone’s
exposed to the drug. And try and figure out what
this whole zombie

thing really means.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

RYAN DUFFY: Scopolamine is by
no means a modern revelation

here in Columbia.

The indigenous people in this
area have had a whole bunch of

uses for the drug.

For example, when a chieftain
died, all his assorted females, wives, mistresses,
what have you, they

had to go as well.

Now that could be a bit
of a dicey process. But what better way to shore
things up than to slip them some scopolamine and suggest
they walk into a grave. When they did, they
were buried alive. In modern times, there’s a
whole litany of fucked-up people who’ve been using
scopolamine for their benefit. For example, in the 1930s and
’40s, Josef Mengele had the drug imported from Columbia to
Germany to use in some of his

interrogations.

More recently, the CIA tried
to use the drug in the ’60s during the Cold War as sort
of a truth serum. The problem with all of this is
that in addition to a whole lot of truth, there’s a good bit
of hallucination involved. We’re in a cab right now heading
over to the southern

part of the city.

We’re going to meet with
officials at the Bogota City

Police Department.

What we’re hoping to figure out
is a little bit more about

how the burundanga gangs work.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[MUSIC PLAYING IN FOREIGN
LANGUAGE] RYAN DUFFY: So it seems like a
lot of the worst scopolamine stories that we’ve heard
start and end at

places just like this.

And the next thing we’re able to
get from someone is, I woke up on a park bench day and a
half later, without my clothes on, without any money,
whatever it is. This drug has always been kind
of inextricably linked to sex

in some way or another.

From its earliest uses, to
eliminating a lingering mistresses, to fallen
chieftains, to its eventual use in easing the pain of
childbirth, to the stories we’re hearing on the streets
today about prostitutes giving it to unsuspecting johns, or
about men turning women into prostitutes by suggesting they
go and earn some cash. It always seems to come back to
sex in one way or another. And it always seems to start
at places like this.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: So, so far we’ve
heard a lot of stories about

burundanga.

But we’d like to get a
little bit closer. So we’ve asked some of our
Colombian friends to put us in touch with someone who has an
experience with burundanga.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

RYAN DUFFY: No idea.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

RYAN DUFFY: Oh, my God.

That better be the scariest
drug I ever see in person. RYAN DUFFY: Don’t let go
of that fucking thing.

[SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE]

[MUSIC PLAYING]

SANTIAGO STELLEY: Are
we done with it? RYAN DUFFY: I’m fucking
over it, dude.

After all this–

SANTIAGO STELLEY:
Into the sewers?

RYAN DUFFY: Anywhere but here.

Not bummed to see it go, I’ll
tell you that much. Like when I first got here I
was super interested in it. And it was like this
novelty thing. I’ve heard enough stories,
man, that I’m just not

fucking into that.

It’s not funny at all.

FEMALE SPEAKER: Make sure you
throw away those gloves before

you put them around anywhere.


VICE

VICE’s Ryan Duffy went to Colombia to check out a strange and powerful drug called Scopolamine, also known as “The Devil’s Breath.” It’s a substance so intense that it renders a person incapable of exercising free will. The first few days in the country were a harrowing montage of freaked-out dealers and unimaginable horror stories about Scopolamine. After meeting only a few people with firsthand experience, the story took a far darker turn than we ever could have imagined. Check out Suicide Forests in Japan – http://bit.ly/Suicide-Forest- Like VICE News? Subscribe to our new channel: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE-News For more VICE News videos, click here: http://bit.ly/PILfBe Subscribe for videos that are actually good: http://bit.ly/Subscribe-to-VICE Check out our full video catalog: http://www.youtube.com/user/vice/videos Videos, daily editorial and more: http://vice.com Like VICE on Facebook: http://fb.com/vice Follow VICE on Twitter: http://twitter.com/vice Read our tumblr: http://vicemag.tumblr.com

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