Scopalimine: A Real Life Story

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This topic I want to discuss is very sensitive and deserves to be addressed with respect and dignity. I will editorialize a bit, but I want to keep it to a minimum. I’m discussing the dark element of tourism in Colombia, and a legitimate concern of many would-be tourists – getting drugged and robbed in the context of a legitimate date. The typical manner of subduing people is scopolamine.

I won’t spend too much time talking about the drug or the delivery because Vice has covered this infinitely better than I can. It’s odorless, tasteless and you won’t know you’ve been given it at all. The most common approach criminals use the drug is applying it to drinks, because that’s the easiest way to get it to the victims. It’s also mixed in the party drugs here – cocaine, 2CB, or ecstasy/MDMA. Another trick I’ve heard about is in massage oil. 

Scopolamine can be applied in 3 different ways, which makes the drug very dangerous:

  • Scopolamine can be ingested by food, drink, etc.. 
  • Scopolamine can be blown in your face, inhaled via powdered substance 
  • Scopolamine can be transferred skin to skin contact, oil etc.. 

I Was a Victim of Scopolamine

I have been hit with this. I know firsthand how it is, and I will tell you the basics of the experience. Mine was not from a date, it was from a girl who had been my apartment cleaner and I knew for 2+ years. She didn’t spike my drink, she put it on food, and I had no idea it happened. I remember the moment the drug took effect, because I just went out, like someone turned the lights out. I woke up about 12 hours later, my apartment was trashed, my laptop, phone, camera, and colognes were taken. Luckily I had my passport in my cuarto util, so that wasn’t taken. The lasting effects of this were not just losing items, I had several health challenges after it. I had to go through dialysis for a month after, and I would have spots where I would just lose time. The other thing that lingers to this day is that I have massive trust issues, and I feel a certain level of PTSD in social situations. I know this is an unpopular opinion, but it is a violation similar to a woman getting raped. 

Scopolamine is Rising Occurance in Medellin

Is this happening more frequently in Medellin now? The short answer is yes. As more tourists flock to Medellin, and Passport Bros have identified this as the place where they will find their subservient woman (proving they know nothing about Paisa women), the cases have risen on the same trajectory. I spoke with the Medellin head of the Fiscalia, and in October 2023, the reported cases of robberies that are the result of drugging at the Fiscalia level are up 350% over October 2022 levels. I asked him if he believes it’s happening more often or if the reporting is happening more, his answer is startling – he believes it’s 80/20 that the drugging is happening rampantly in popular party neighborhoods like Parque Lleras and Laureles. 75% of the drugging cases originate from these 2 areas, so that indicates that it’s happening more to tourists.

If you read my article No Dar Papaya, I covered some of the typical ways to protect yourself on the streets, in this article I want to expand on ways to protect yourself from putting yourself in a situation where you can get scopolamined in the first place. Let’s get this out of the way first and foremost. DO NOT VICTIM BLAME. Yes, if it happens, the person did put themselves in a vulnerable position but have compassion. You have no idea what these people are going through, and I can tell you that it’s worse than any nightmare you can imagine. I was fortunate enough to have a great support system here and speak Spanish, most of these guys don’t have that. There is also a stigma of appearing weak if you report it. I’m secure enough to talk about it, but there is a level of shame involved with getting drugged and robbed. With that said, let’s dive in.

Dating Apps

As I said before, Tinder and Bumble are not your friends here in Colombia. Yes, there are genuine people on the apps, it is possible to meet your match there, but it’s far more likely that you find yourself in the underworld this way. Be it via drugging or prostitution. I’m not discouraging you from using the apps, but I want to breathe some reality into this situation. 

  1. Be realistic – I know many come here with the idea that Colombian women are looking for their green card to the US, and yes some are, but most don’t want to leave Colombia. If you are 40 years old, and you come here searching for a 20-year-old lover, this is not something based on reality. If a girl half your age matches with you here in Medellin, she’s not enamored with your charm, she’s enamored with what you can provide her. I know many men will not want to hear this, but your ‘game’ isn’t going to be as successful as you think here on the apps. Also, another huge red flag is if you are talking to a girl and she says she has a friend you may like who is open-minded, cut bait, and run. If having a sexual adventure is what you are here for, be honest with yourself and go to one of the reputable clubs in Medellin such as La Isla a Brothel in Laureles, and get your fantasy taken care of there. Trying to accomplish that on the streets is playing with dynamite.
  2. ALWAYS meet in public first – This is a non-negotiable. If a girl is telling you that she would like to have a drink before you go out in your apartment or hotel, you will be getting drugged. Plain and simple. Always meet in a public place, away from bars and nightclubs. This is the way you can save yourself from an expensive and potentially deadly trip to Medellin.
  3. Suss out the girls earlier – In addition to being realistic in your expectations for dates, you should also look for a few signs that she is dangerous. Here are a few things that the dangerous girls will do, and something you can avoid:
    1. Calling you pet names right away. Latinas, in general, are more affectionate, but any girl that calls you “Mor” (shortening of amor), cariño, corazon, cielo, etc. is up to no good. Period. 
    2. She tries to take you off the app to Whatsapp quickly – No. You have zero protection on Whatsapp, and also the profiles get reported quickly on Tinder, so when they have your number, it’s a more direct route to you.
    3. They want to get you away from your group. If they ask you to go to the clubs with them to go dancing but they want you to go alone, that is not good at all. Divide and conquer is the plan here.
    4. NEVER give them your location right away. Oftentimes the women you’re chatting with on Tinder are not women at all, they’re chatter for the gangs here. If you tell them I’m staying at X Hotel, and I’m going to X restaurant for lunch, there is a high chance there is a spotter watching you, sizing you up for a robbery, or getting more information for the girls to rob you. Scary huh?
    5. I feel like I should wrap up this with a phrase you need to engrain in your head if you’re coming here – If something feels too good to be true, it is. 

Street safety

I won’t go into this too much because the previously referenced article has all of the safety information in it. 

Here are the 2 main things to keep in mind if you’re at a bar/club – 

  1. WATCH YOUR DRINK LIKE A HAWK – Don’t be afraid of offending someone. The bartenders here are going to look out for you for the most part, but don’t count on it. If you tip them well, they will be more likely to treat you well. Never leave your drink unattended. We tell women this in the US, because of the predator men out there, here in Colombia, you are the prey, and the women are the predators. Not all, but you get the picture.
  2. Mind your limits – Remember that you are in a place that is nearly a mile above sea level, you’re drinking new types of liquor and if you partake in harder drugs, the potency is 5-10x what it is in the US/Europe. You have a much higher chance of being a victim if you are intoxicated in public.

Post-Robbery

Ok, you didn’t heed my warnings and you got drugged and robbed. First things first, I feel for you. You’re about to go through hell if you haven’t already. The natural inclination is to call the police and try to deal with the situation. Don’t waste your time. I’m not saying don’t report it, because that is the worst thing you can do. What I’m saying is that the National Police here are criminally unprepared to handle this and it will likely never get any attention at all. You will hear, ‘yeah, this happens a lot” and that there is nothing they can do about it. Which is sadly true.

If you want anything to happen here is the playbook to handle this situation:

First, go to the porteria of the building or the front desk of the hotel. DO NOT tell them to call the police. Kindly ask them to call the Medellin field office of the Fiscalia. The fiscalia is the Colombian equivalent of the FBI or INTERPOL. 

Second, reach out to your support system back home. Find a way to get money sent to you. Sadly you’re going to need it. I recommend that you have a list of people with contact information and a code word, so they know it’s you and you’re safe.

Third, call the embassy in Bogota. If they stole your passport, you will need another one to do anything. The embassies take this all VERY seriously, and if you have a case number from the Fiscalia give this to them so that the embassy can be your advocate. That is what they are here for. They will apply pressure to the Fiscalia 

Fourth, and critically, get to a doctor immediately. The dosage difference between subduing someone and killing them is milligrams. These are not measured out properly and often rushed in the delivery, so accuracy isn’t the top priority of your attacker. Neither is your health, so get to the doctor immediately. There are several 24-hour clinics that will see you. Don’t neglect this step. Please. 

Fifth, and probably most importantly, power past the shame you feel. Yes, it’s a humbling experience at best, but you have to go to these lengths to mitigate the amount this will affect you moving forward. This is not a reflection of you as a person, you have to report this and do it properly or it could have lasting consequences for you. 

I genuinely hope this never happens to anyone, but it is completely avoidable. If it does happen to you, handle it the proper way. There is a less than 3% conviction rate in these cases because of the shame involved, and the lack of resources the Police will provide you. Don’t be another statistic, be smart and stay humble so you make it home alive

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