Angel’s Trumpet shrubs are most commonly found near Bogota, Colombia, but also in the provinces of Magdalena and Atlantico. More importantly, the flower of the Brugmansia arborea plant is quite beautiful, but it disguises something very ugly. The extract from that poisonous vegetation contains a form of the alkaloid scopolamine which is derived from plants of the deadly nightshade family, as shown in the molecular formula below. The chemical is structurally similar to acetylcholine, which is an organic chemical that functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain.
Scopolamine is a sinister substance, also known as “burundanga”. In high doses, it acts as a poison having hallucinogenic and memory-reducing effects that can last for hours. This turns people into fully willing participants in any activity. Devil’s Breath leads to a total loss of inhibition. So, people can make someone give away all their belongings, or have sex with anyone, or anything else they want them to do. This drug is like the worst roofie imaginable, only instead of just laying there, victims can be made to be as perverse and passionate as possible.
I should also mention that this so-called “zombie drug” is not to be confused with another infamous powder. The Haitian potion that makes people think that they have died and come back to life is made with tetrodotoxin. This is essentially the exact opposite of scopolamine. The former leaves someone fully aware but unable to act, while the latter leaves someone unaware but able to act. Still, it’s easy to understand why the media calls them both “zombie drugs”.
Regardless, the horrific use of scopolamine has been going on for millennia. The indigenous people of Colombia have had a whole bunch of uses for the drug, for a really long time. Just as one example among many, when a chieftain died, all of his assorted wives and mistresses had to go with him to the underworld. So, a priest would slip them some scopolamine and suggest that they walk into the grave. Then, they were buried alive with their deceased lover.
In modern times, there’s a whole litany of deranged people using scopolamine for their benefit. In the 1930s and 1940s, Josef Mengele had the drug imported from Colombia to Germany to use in some of his interrogations. More recently, the CIA tried to use the drug in the 1960s during the Cold War as a sort of truth serum. The problem with all of this is that in addition to a whole lot of truth, there’s also the possibility of hallucination being involved. After all, scopolamine is a dissociative psychedelic.
Ultimately, Devil’s Breath is a dastardly drug. This is because burundanga eliminates your free will. So, you’re awake and articulate the whole time. Thus, to anyone else watching, it seems like you’re perfectly fine. Only the culprits know that you’ve completely lost control of your own actions. You’re at the whim of their suggestions, and that’s how they take advantage of you. Honestly, what could be more terrifying than that? This is why you have to pay close attention to what you eat and drink, especially in strange places.
The US Overseas Security Advisory Council warns people about the dangers of falling victim to scopolamine attacks. Unofficial estimates seem to indicate that tens of thousands of burandanga crimes happen every year. This has occurred everywhere from France to Ecuador, but especially in Colombia. Some years, nearly half of the emergency room admissions in Bogota are for burundanga poisoning. Then again, scopolamine isn’t classified by the DEA as a controlled substance, so it can be legally obtained with a prescription, or illegally without one.
Ultimately, as outlandish as any or all of this might seem to you or anyone else, this is not an urban legend. Devil’s Breath really does leave people all around the world at serious risk of having their bank accounts emptied or their organs stolen. Burandanga is extremely dangerous, if not altogether deadly. The difference between a dose and an overdose is almost nonexistent. That’s why scopolamine really is the scariest drug in the world, there’s just no doubt about it. So, please, at least somewhere in the back of your mind, beware of the Devil’s Breath.