Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Burundanga Drug Warning

I've been receiving quite a few emails about a malicious drug called Burundanga, that's used to incapacitate victims at petrol stations. Typically the email goes like this;


Share with your sisters, daughters, nieces, mothers, female friends, EVERYONE.

NEW WARNING!! Incident has been confirmed

A man came over and offered his services as a painter to a female putting gas in her car and left his card. She said no, but accepted his card out of kindness and got in the car. The man then got into a car driven by another gentleman. As the lady left the service station and saw the men following her out of the station at the same time. Almost immediately, she started to feel dizzy and could not catch her breath. She tried to open the window and realized that the odor was on her hand; the same hand which accepted the card from the gentleman at the gas station.

She then noticed the men were immediately behind her and she felt she needed to do something at that moment. She drove into the first driveway and began to honk her horn to ask for help. The men drove away but the lady still felt pretty bad for several minutes after she could finally catch her breath. Apparently there was a substance on the card and could have seriously injured her. The drug is called 'BURUNDANGA' and it is used by people who wish to incapacitate a victim in order to steal or take advantage of them.

Four times greater than date rape drug and is transferable on simple cards. So take heed and make sure you don't accept cards at any given time alone or from someone on the streets. This applies to those making house calls and slipping you a card when they offer their services.

I did a little reseach about this drug and look what I found, thanks to urbanlegends.about.com and snopes.com.

Is there a drug called burundanga that has been used by criminals in South America to incapacitate their victims? Yes.

Do news sources confirm that burundanga has been used in recent years to commit crimes in the United States? No.

The incident described above is a fabrication. Two details betray the story as a hoax:

The victim allegedly received a dose of the drug by simply touching a business card. (All sources agree that burundanga must be inhaled or ingested, or the subject must have prolonged topical contact with a large dose of the substance in order for it to have an effect.)

The victim allegedly detected a "strong odor" emitted by the drug-laced card. (All sources agree that burundanga is odorless and tasteless.)

What is burundanga?

Burundanga is the street version of a pharmaceutical drug called scopolamine. It's made from the extracts of plants in the nightshade family such as henbane and jimson weed. It's a deliriant, meaning it can induce symptoms of delirium such as disorientation, loss of memory, hallucinations, and stupor.

You can see why it would be popular with criminals.

Scopolamine, which works by inhibiting the transmission of certain nerve impulses in the brain and muscles, has several legitimate medical uses, including the treatment of nausea, motion sickness, and gastrointestinal cramps. It has also been used as a "truth serum." And, like burundanga, scopolamine has frequently been implicated as a stupefying agent or "knockout drug" in the commission of crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, and date rape.

Though the frequency of such crimes has presumably decreased along with the country's overall crime rate in the intervening years, the U.S. State Department still warns travelers to beware of "criminals in Colombia using disabling drugs to temporarily incapacitate tourists and others."

Like the stories circulating in North America about criminals using ether-tainted perfume samples to knock out their victims, the burundanga emails trade on fear, not facts. They tell of alleged close calls with would-be attackers, not actual crimes. They are dysfunctionalcautionary tales.

Make no mistake, burundanga is real. It has been used to commit crimes. If you're traveling in a region where its use has been confirmed, exercise due caution. But don't rely on forwarded emails for your facts.

While it's good to exercise caution, we need to get our facts straight.

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