Paris police have arrested three Chinese nationals on suspicion of using a powerful Colombian drug to dope strangers into a “zombified state” and then rob them for all they had.
Scopolamine, also known as “The Devil’s Breath,” is extracted from a common South American tree. It has a long and mysterious history tied up in rumors of being used by witches in the middle ages and by SS, KGB and CIA officers during interrogations. Hell, VICE even made a documentary about it.
Paris police contend that two Chinese women blew the drug into unsuspecting strangers’ faces. This would place them in a hypnotic state, then the women could lure the victims back to their apartments where they could rob them pretty much literally blind. One Parisian reportedly lost €100,000 in cash and valuables.
However, the reports of the drug’s magical ability to zombify at first blow might be somewhat questionable. In small doses scopolamine is actually used as a anti motion sickness drug. The Guardian researched the subject in depth and talked to Val Curran, professor of pharmacology at UCL’s Clinical Pharmacology Unit.
It is “horrible stuff”, says Curran. “When I used to give it to people [in experiments], they hated it – it makes your mouth really dry, it makes your pupils constrict. Certainly high doses would be completely incapacitating.” And does it remove free will? “It would completely zonk you out,” says Curran, “ but I don’t know about removing free will. It incapacitates you because you’d feel so drowsy, you wouldn’t remember what was going on. But you would do after huge doses of alcohol, or lots of other drugs like Valium or other benzodiazepine drugs.”
Anyway, the Daily Telegraph has more details on this incredible-sounding crime:
“The victims targeted, very often old, were accosted in the street by a first woman,” a source close to the investigation told Le Parisien.
“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.”
All the victims recounted falling into a kind of “hypnotic state under the total sway of their handlers”, said the source.
The pair of women were apprehended last month at the entrance of a metro station after being pointed out by a friend of one of their victims.
Police raided their hotel room and discovered “various Chinese medicinal substances as well as weighing scales, filters and gloves”. Later, a third suspect, a 56-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of preparing the drug.
Rule to live by: Don’t sniff anything offered by a “Doctor Wang.”