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Livestock thieves go hi-tech, now incapacitating herders with suspected Scopolamine

File photo of a herd of cattle
Livestock farmers around Thika and environs has a reason to worry after thugs have started sedating herders to enable them to steal domestic animals that are out in the fields grazing,

A recent case in point is a farmer in Athena-Kiganjo area who last Thursday lost 11 cows and 16 goats after his herder was sedated by these crooks.

According to him, some people approached the elderly herder in the fields as he was grazing the animals and offered him some mandazis.

Immediately after consuming the snacks, the Mzee lost his memory and blacked out. The thieves took this opportunity and vanished with the entire herd, never to be seen again.

The owner knew something was amiss after the herder failed to return home and went out to look for him and the animals.

“We found him at around 8pm but he looked so confused and empty and could not recall what had happened to him. It was not until the following day that he was able to recollect the events that preceded the loss of the animals,” explained the owner.

The matter was reported at Kiganjo Police Post but up to now, they have not managed to recover the stolen animals.

Further inquest on the same revealed that this was not an isolated case as similar incidents have been reported within the vicinity and across Muthara area in Juja Constituency.

The thugs are said to be targeting herders, especially the elderly and the not so sharp thinkers and offering them some snacks or uji. Within minutes, the drug sedates the victims, eliminates free will, and even wipes the memory of its victims. It is at this time, the crooks drive the away.

These agents of the ‘Devil’s Breath’ (Scopolamine) are not only isolated in the fields as so many unsuspecting people have been victims on the streets of Thika and in clubs and entertainment joints.

In clubs, people refer to them as “watu was mchele”. Tasteless and odourless, the drug is often slipped into the drinks of unsuspecting bar patrons. Revelers go out to party, are drugged then wake up hours or a day without their belongings or their money.

Along the streets, they will disguise as "village" women pretending to be lost or at times "prophets" or even businesspersons who offer you their business cards.

Once one engages them, they blow this powder into their face and within minutes, you are under the influence and will do whatever you are commanded, including emptying your bank account, giving out your PIN Numbers etc.

It is quite difficult to apprehend the culprits as this drug completely wipes out memory; victims have no recollection of what happened.

Others will target shops, M-PESA agents, public transport operators or petrol stations posing as clients or persons seeking some loose change. Immediately the victim touches the sedated money, they lose their memory and empty their cash boxes.

This “zombie-like” state leaves the victim with no ability to control their actions, leaving them at mercy of the criminals. So many victims have told horror stories of how they were coerced into emptying their bank accounts, homes robbed and some even ending up being raped.

Scopolamine comes from the seeds of a family of plants that includes angel’s trumpets and corkwood.

The Devil's Breath is made from the seeds of the borrachero tree.
The drug has a few legitimate medical uses, such as treatment for motion sickness and for the tremors of Parkinson’s disease. Nevertheless, it’s best known for its darker properties.

So, anytime you are approached by a stranger, DO NOT GIVE THEM TOO MUCH ATTENTION.

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