1706259517 Tinder and scopolamine tourists targeted by a deadly cocktail in

Tinder and scopolamine: tourists targeted by a deadly cocktail in Colombia

The woman was “beautiful”. In fact, probably too much… It's pretty much the only thing Israeli Omer Bloch remembers from a Tinder date in the Colombian city of Medellin, where the “beauty” in question met him. She was robbed after letting him sleep with a powerful local drug.

• Also read: Sexual violence: a “very disturbing” trend, according to the UN

After dinner, Mr. Bloch returned home with his evening companion and uncorked a beer. The next day he woke up with empty pockets, missing belongings and upside down.

“I just remember wanting to kiss his neck. And then click, big black hole. “I woke up with no memory whatsoever,” the 28-year-old businessman told AFP. “I had difficulty getting out of bed. It was like I was drunk.”

He looked around his apartment and noticed that his “iPad was missing” as well as his “wallet and credit cards.”

Tinder and scopolamine: tourists targeted by a deadly cocktail in Colombia


According to the results of medical analysis, Omer Bloch was drugged with scopolamine, a powerful alkaloid that was used as a “thieves drug” against naive tourists visiting the famous Colombian city.


Medellin, the “City of Eternal Spring” of 2.6 million people known for its drug-trafficking violence in the 1990s, is now an essential stop for trendy tourism and digital “nomads.”

With its vibrant reggaeton nightlife and legal prostitution, it is also a hotspot for global sex tourism.

In early January, following the “suspicious” deaths of eight Americans in Medellin between November and December 2023, the US Embassy issued a warning recommending not to use dating apps in Colombia.

“The circumstances suggest possible drug use, theft and overdose. “Dating apps were used in several cases,” explained the diplomatic mission.

Tinder and scopolamine: tourists targeted by a deadly cocktail in Colombia


In one of the most famous episodes, American comedian Tou Ger Xiong was kidnapped and found dead on December 11 after meeting a woman he met online.

“It certainly could have been me,” says Mr. Bloch, still sitting in one of the luxury residential towers that rise along the steep avenues of El Poblado, the neighborhood favored by foreigners. “I thought she was a girl like any other, a date like any other,” he laments, calling those “sexpats” who “come here to party, have fun and make out.”

The number of foreigners visiting Medellin rose from 212,000 in 2015 to 1.4 million in 2022. The number of violent deaths “increases with the number of visitors,” notes William Vivas, the municipality's human rights ombudsman.

While the local prosecutor's office awaits the figures for 2023, it says that in 2022 it handled 82 cases of foreign victims of “theft with a toxic substance.” This official figure does not give an adequate picture of the phenomenon, while many victims do not file a complaint.

As a diplomatic source reveals, in Medellín as in Bogotá, Tinder flirts drop like a swarm of flies every weekend. Some are sometimes even held captive for several days, only to be released for a ransom.

Tree of the “Drunkard”

Scopolamine is derived from the Brugmansia tree, which can be identified by its elegant white or yellow bell-shaped flowers. It is known as “borrachero” (drunkard) due to its psychotropic effects and is very common in Colombia.

Tinder and scopolamine: tourists targeted by a deadly cocktail in Colombia


Criminals extract scopolamine (the use of which is banned in Colombia) from the fruit's black seeds and secretly dilute it in their victims' drinks or sometimes throw the powder in their faces.

The effect is immediate, causing an almost total loss of will, a form of torpor that turns you into a vegetable, malleable at will.

Tinder and scopolamine: tourists targeted by a deadly cocktail in Colombia


“Some people can fall asleep. Others may have amnesia (…). We can also observe tachycardia, hypertension and convulsions,” warns Diana Pava, toxicologist in the Psychoactive Substances Research Group at the National University.

In large doses and when combined with alcohol, scopolamine can be fatal. In addition, the biologist warns, it is difficult to detect it in blood or urine because the body excretes it quickly.

After his mishap, Mr Bloch shared his story on social media and was surprised at how little compassion the local population showed. Although incidents of this kind are reported in the press, these flights are often praised as “revenge” against foreigners who practice sex tourism.

“There are gringos (foreigners) who are bastards and take advantage of women, but what happens when it's the good guys who fall for scopolamine?” the man asks.