Is Burundanga another predatory drug?


I recently received an e mail warning about another predatory, or date rape drug.

It describes an account of a woman who was approached at a gas station by a man offering his painting services. She took his business card, got into her car a left the station. She states that the painter and a second man followed her out of the gas station.

She states that she immediately began to feel dizzy and could not catch her breath and also noticed a strong odor in the car. She apparently went a neighbors home and honked her horn for help at which time she says the men following her drove away.

She states she felt bad for a few minutes and then noticed a substance on the business card. She states she went on the Internet and found that a drug called “burundanga” can be used to incapacitate victims after being absorbed through the skin.

This e mail was accompanied by a link to an article written by Stephen Pittel, PhD a forensic expert and consultant’s site.

Doctor Pittel indeed describes Burundanga as “a potent form of scopalamine that has been used for decades in Columbia in native rituals, as a weapon and by criminals who prey on tourists.”

Doctors most commonly use scopolamine to treat nausea and motion sickness and often with a trans dermal patch. Scopolamine can cause dizziness, drowsiness and blurred vision even in lower doses, and delirium, unconsciousness and memory loss in large doses, three reasons it has been used as a predatory drug. As with many substances, alcohol has a compounding effect!

Some authors state that in recent years fifty percent of emergency room admission for poisoning in Columbia are due to overdoses of this agent.

Pitell and others note that the State Department has issued warnings to those traveling to South American countries to be aware of this potential threat given the number of tourist that have been robbed after unknowingly ingesting burundanga.

Although this substance is absorbed through the skin, most sources seem to question if one can absorb a large enough dose trans dermally from touching a card or travel brochure. The bigger threat is a large dose being put into a drink.

Whether or not the e mail account of the tainted business card is accurate and whether or not one can absorb enough of a trans dermal agent to become incapacitated is not the real issue.

  • This e mail account should however serve to remind us that we need to be cognizant of those around us any time we are out in public and especially when at parties or functions. Any number of substances can be slipped into any beverage, or food for that matter, anywhere and at any time.

My recent blog entry recounts the tragic story of a couple who were robbed after being drugged by someone they befriended at a coffee shop while traveling in Europe.

Substances commonly used as predatory drugs here in the States include Rohypnol, GHB and Ketermine. Even if you open your own sealed bottle of water or can of soda when out in public, be aware that these compound can be mixed into the ice cubes that a seemingly considerate person may offer you!

Always watch as your drink is prepared, even if it is a latte on a sunny day. Be wary of someone who prepares your drink below bar top level and out of sight. Also be wary of anyone who wants to keep pouring you alcoholic beverages at a party!

The most commonly used substance for predatory purposes, especially date or acquaintance rape, is alcohol!

The opioid analgesics such as Oxycontin and hyrdocodone, effective pain medications when used appropriately, are also dangerous when abused as are the anti anxiety medications and muscle relaxants. Alcohol combined with these medication can result in death as the person gradually looses their urge to breath also knows as respiratory depression.

Often time a “cocktail” of different substances may be used to incapacitate the victim.

Obviously avoiding predatory drugs is paramount. If you are in a public setting or attending a function and do start to suddenly feel sleepy, disoriented and “out of it”, especially accompanied by loss of motor control, it is best to assume you have ingested a harmful agent and seek medical attention immediately.

Waiting a while to “see if I feel better” only robs you of precious time, time doctors will need to be able to help you!

In closing, and back to the gas station where the account of the lady’s story began, the most important thing to remember is to keep distance between yourself and strangers. You should always be wary of a stranger closing distance on you regardless of the stated reason, and especially when in an isolated environment! If you are followed drive to a busy well light area, or a police or fire station but not home, to a friends house, your place of work or any location your children will be at.

  • The avoidance of the predatory drugs and safe dating are amongst the many topics we cover in our Mom Daughter and College Safety Trainings.
  • Predatory Drugs are also addressed in our Travel Safety Training.
  • Please visit the Resources area of our site for more information on these and other topics

What is Situational Awareness ?

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  1. #1 by Baron Samedi on May 26, 2010 - 9:50 am

    This is a hoax. Here is the snopes article.

    The drug is real but has not seen use in the US that anyone can prove. There are plenty of real date-rape drugs out there, such as Rohypnol, Ketamine etc.

  2. #2 by Larry Kaminer on May 26, 2010 - 6:36 pm

    Indeed a hoax. Thanks for posting the link to Snopes too Baron!!

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