An alarming trend that has been occurring in different places around the world is the use of drugs in facilitating crimes like robbery, sexual assault and kidnapping. These incidents have occurred in locations as varied as Colombia, the Philippines and India.
While most Americans may be aware of the use of drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB to facilitate date rape, many do not know how common these drugging incidents are overseas.
In May 2012 a tour guide in New Delhi was arrested for drugging and robbing lone tourists. He met most of them in the area of the Chandi Chowk and Red Fort, offered them food laced with an unknown drug that incapacitated them and then robbed them and dumped them in remote areas. While this particular modus operandi has not been that common in India it is very common in other areas.
Colombia is one of the best known locations for this type of activity. Scopolamine – known locally as Burandanga – is used to facilitate crime by rendering the victim into a compliant, zombie-like state. When the victim recovers he or she will usually have limited to know memory of the incident. A recent documentary called the “The Devil’s Breath” brought the dangers of Scopolamine to a broad audience but this drug has been used for nefarious purposes in Colombia and neighboring countries for quite a while. Methods of deployment can include everything from spiking food or drink to blowing it in the victim’s face.
In the Philippines the “Ativan Gang” (probably actually numerous groups using the same or similar methods) has preyed on victims by drugging them with Ativan and robbing them. In some cases an attractive female will strike up a conversation with a lone male, go out for cocktails and spike his drink. Then she and her accomplices will rob him. In another variation a group of matronly older women will initiate a relationship with a tourist and invite him or her for a meal. They will subsequently spike the food and or drink and rob the tourist. There are other methods as well but these are two of the most prevalent.
Sometimes with these stories it can be difficult to separate truth from urban myth but there are enough verifiable incidents to establish that this is a concern — in particular in some of the locations mentioned. The scary thing about this type of crime is that it can render even the strongest, most competent fighter helpless. The only remedy is to be aware of this threat and practice avoidance. Be wary of unsolicited approaches by strangers. Some of these can be very convincing. Don’t accept food, drink or chewing gum from anyone you don’t know well. If you are at a bar or similar establishment don’t leave your drink unattended and monitor it carefully. Also — going out in pairs or groups may also help guard against this type of threat.