Scopolamine: AKA Fairy Dust or Zombie Drug

I have not had any encounters with fairy dust since I have been here in Quito, but I have heard horror stories. It's a powder that, upon skin contact, makes you completely compliant. You might help a thief carry your television out of your house and into the car. You might willingly open the safety deposit box in your house and hand over all your money. This is a real threat in Ecuador and a lot of Latin America, and what's scary is that if you are alone and you are exposed to this by anyone brushing past you on the street, there isn't really anything you can do about it.
I am posting about it right now because apparently incidents and attacks with scopolamine have risen recently, and it's something everyone should be aware of. It's hard not to be super paranoid all the time knowing that this dangerous drug is out there.

 This drug turns you into a zombie...
probably not a clown

This is an email that went out from the U.S. embassy here in Quito this week:

Scopolamine attacks are on the rise in Quito.  There have been reports of tourists and people who appear to be robbed after having scopolamine slipped into their food or drink, rubbed on their skin, sprayed on them by workers at the perfume counters at department stores, or handed to them on business cards or pieces of paper from beggars and kids on the street, people asking for directions to an address, or by men or women at nightclubs. 
The details of a recent attack on a teacher from Cotopaxi Academy are particularly troubling.  While walking from Cotopaxi Academy to the Cookie Box restaurant in Montesserín, a teacher was approached by individuals with a map claiming to be lost.  The individuals asked for assistance and showed the teacher their map.  The teacher only remembers seeing some crystalline powder on the map then woke up in her house with her belongings taken, not remembering what had happened or how she got home.
Scopolamine is a mydriatic drug used by medical professionals as a sedative.  In Colombia a plant base powder containing scopolamine is called Burundanga and it has been used shamanically by criminals for decades. One in five emergency room admissions for poisoning in Bogotá have been attributed to scopolamine. Scopolamine is transdermal, oral, sublingual, and injectable and has been shown to impair memory in humans to mimic the cognitive deficits found in Alzheimer's and Dementia. Other effects include: sweating, runny nose, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, vertigo and dizziness.
RSO advises to avoid touching pieces of paper handed to you by strangers and to avoid bodily contact with suspicious persons when possible. It is always advisable to not be alone at clubs, ATMs, on public transportation, or in open markets.  If you are alone and you begin to feel dizzy or nauseous after being touched, bumped, sprayed, or after ingesting food or drink, please seek out a police officer or security guard immediately.  If you feel that you have been the victim of a scopolamine attack, contact a local medical professional or the Embassy health unit.


  1. Can you provide where you got the info on cases/reports of the people who were drugged by being sprayed with perfume? Theres is this person on FB page Hoaxes on FB, says its a hoax, but i think its real and many cases go unreported because people have no recollection as one of the effects.
    The drug is real in Columbia, its called Scopolamine, Burundanga, or Dragons Breath. The entire plant is poison, the roots, leaves, Flowers, stems.

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