Drug that turns victims into 'zombies' used in robberies
Police have arrested two Chinese women and a man in Paris suspected of using a powerful Colombian drug - dubbed "the devil's breath" - to turn victims into "zombies" devoid of free will, and then robbing them.
It is thought the three are part of an international Triad-style criminal gang running a multimillion-euro operation. The women approached strangers in Paris's 20th arrondissement and blew the substance into their faces. It is thought to contain scopolamine, a hazardous drug extracted from a South American tree related to the deadly nightshade plant.
The Soviets and the CIA reportedly used it as a truth serum during the Cold War.
However, because of the drug's chemical make-up, it also induces powerful hallucinations.
In strong doses it is lethal.
Police believe the suspects administered the substance on "dozens" of victims in the French capital.
"The victims targeted, very often old, were accosted in the street," a source close to the investigation told 'Le Parisien' newspaper.
"They managed to isolate their victims, then they got them to breathe in a mixture made from the plants on the grounds they had powerful curative qualities - even protecting them from misfortune."
Once they inhaled, all the victims recounted falling into a kind of "hypnotic state under the total sway of their handlers", said the investigative source.
"They then got the victims to take them to their home, where they asked them to put all their jewellery and money into a bag and hand it over."
One Parisian victim lost €100,000, police said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)