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Colombia sees rise in use of ‘zombie’ drug that affects victims for hours

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, June 17, 2013 15:50 EDT
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A female zombie. Photo: Shutterstock.com, all rights reserved.
 
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Last year in Colombia, over 1,200 people were dosed by criminals with a so-called “zombie” drug that makes victims compliant and happy to say or do anything their captors tell them to.

Frighteningly, according to a report in The Global Post on Monday, the use of this drug is on the rise and regional hospitals are seeing at least several victims every week of late.

The drug is called scopolamine, derived from the Datura stramonium plant, otherwise known as jimsonweed. It’s victims lose their grasp on reality and often wind up with their bank accounts drained, their belongings stolen and a massive hangover — and that’s if they’re lucky.

Scopolamine is especially notorious for its use in sexual assaults, and was even detected in street-level date rape drugs that sent 20 people to hospitals in 2008, according to The International Business Times.

“[Victims] go out to party and then wake up two or three days later on a park bench,” Maria Fernanda Villota, a nurse at San Jose University Hospital, told The Global Post. “They arrive here without their belongings or their money.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture classifies Datura stramonium as a noxious weed, so it is not commonly seen stateside, where it is mostly administered in controlled doses found in anti-naseua medication. In Colombia, however, the Datura stramonium plant grows freely.

The website Vice also featured the plant in a widely-viewed short documentary that carried harrowing tales of compliant victims all too willing to aid their assailants. Victims who spoke to the camera crews recounted committing crimes on behalf of their assailants and feeling happy to do so until finally realizing what had been done to them.

However, it doesn’t always work out so well for the criminals: people who are dosed with scopolamine can also become enraged and violent. The Post noted that it’s not uncommon for a criminal and their victim to be checked in to the hospital at the same time due to injuries sustained in a struggle after administering the drug.
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["Stock photo: A female zombie," via Shutterstock.]

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
 
 
 
 
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