Ironically the flowers are called “Angel’s Trumpets” but people use the seeds to make “Scopolamine“, or “Devil’s Breath” a powdery drug which, when administered in small doses, results in hallucinations and a hypnotized state, and in larger quantities (“larger” meaning as little as one (1) gram…) causes death.
It seems that Angel’s Trumpets / Devil’s Breath has a long history of use. Tribes in South America reportedly used to administer Scopolamine to the wives of dead tribal chiefs, who, under tribal tradition, had to be buried alive with their husbands after they died. Taken from the seeds of the tree which grows wild in Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela the drug facilitated such women being persuaded to walk happily into the graves to their gruesome deaths. Per Robert Beverley’s 1705 book on the history of Virginia as far back as 1676 the drug was said to have been used against British soldiers in early colonial America by tricking British soldier’s into eating food which had been secretly laced with Devil’s Breath shortly before they were due to fight. The soldiers reportedly “spent several days making monkey faces and generally acting like lunatics. One soldier was found stark naked, sitting in a corner like a monkey, grimacing at his comrades. The troops were in such a frantic condition they were confined, lest they should, in their folly, destroy themselves — for they would have wallowed in their own excrement, if they had not been prevented. And then after 11 days returned themselves again, not remembering anything that had passed.” Throughout South American history the seeds have been used by shamans or witch doctors who brewed the seeds into a tea which was used to discipline children, who reportedly experienced terrifying hallucinations after a tiny dose of the poison, in the hope that they would see terrifying visions of their dead ancestors telling them to behave. Murderer Hawley Harvey Crippen, infamously known as Dr Crippen, was hanged at Pentonville Prison in London in 1910 after killing his wife with Devil’s Breath and burying her body, then fleeing with his lover. From the 1920’s through the 1930’s Scopolamine was used for mainstream medical purposes, with doctors administering it to mothers in labor so as to induce a “twilight sleep” to ease the pain of childbirth.
Doctors reported that women given Scopolamine “answered questions accurately and with rare candor” so, in the 1920s Dr Robert House, a Texas obstetrician, managed to persuade authorities to let him use the drug on two prisoners in the Dallas County Jail. Per reports, upon questioning the inmates Dr. House discovered that their protestations of innocence had not changed and, since they were unable to lie, his experiments led to the acquittal of both men, causing a local newspaper covering the case coined the term “truth serum”. However, use of the drug for both medical purposes and in courts was abandoned in the 1930s after users reported horrifying hallucinations and depression.
Enter the Nazis… Joseph Mengele, the Nazi’s so-called “Angel of Death”, freely used Scopolamine during experiments on Jewish prisoners…
And, naturally, for a period of time the C.I.A. also administered Scopolamine as a “truth serum” during interrogations, even reportedly having been tested inside of America as part of a secretive CIA-run operation to test mind-control drugs for the interrogation of Cold War prisoners – a program which was reportedly halted in 1973.
Miriam Gutierrez, a toxicology expert in Bogota, Colombia, explained: “From a medical point of view, it’s the perfect substance to commit criminal acts, because the victim won’t remember anything.” Because of the amnesia brought on by Devil’s Breath, investigating this new crime wave has proved problematic. French Police smashed the ring only after a handful of victims contacted them, having vaguely remembered what happened. Victims admitted they had co-operated with thieves and even handed over passwords and pins for bank accounts while in “dream-like” states. While one of the Chinese women in the gang blew the dust in her victims’ faces, the other told passers-by that she had a mixture of plants which had powerful medicinal qualities and persuaded people to have a sniff. The police investigation into the gang’s activities led detectives to the Chinese women who had been operating from a hotel room in a drab suburb in the north of the French capital, where powder believed to be Devil’s Breath, along with weighing scales and surgical gloves, were discovered. But the gang is thought to be part of a much bigger criminal network operating across Europe and the U.S. and now, with the first cases of the drug being used by criminal gangs in Europe, there are fears that its use will rocket.
In Colombia, some 50,000 people a year already reportedly fall victim to the Devil’s Breath gangs. Usually, the poison, which is also used as a date-rape drug, is slipped into the victim’s drink. One U.S. resident in Columbia reportedly told how he woke up in the morning, having met some locals in a bar the night before, to find his expensive apartment had been emptied of everything he owned. When he asked the doorman on his apartment block what had happened, the American was told that he had himself helped a group of men load up a van with all his possessions, all the while being under the influence of the drug. The victim had no recollection of this whatsoever.