Spanish police have arrested a couple on charges they were performing rituals – touted online as “international ancestral medicine” – involving a range of banned substances ranging from toad venom to ayahuasca.
The couple, aged 42 and 38, are said to have run an association which organized ceremonies involving psychotropic substances for up to € 150 (£ 129) per session. Weekend retreats were also offered at a cost of up to € 350 (£ 300).
Police said they analyzed videos of the rituals uploaded by the couple. “Clients have been observed consuming liquid or inhaling psychotropic drugs he gave them. [the master of the ceremonies] while obstructing their breathing in order to keep the smoke inside longer, ”the Guardia Civil said in a statement. “As a result of this practice, clients often fell to the floor in convulsions and presented with severe alterations in consciousness. “
Video broadcast by the police appears to show the couple administering a substance to a man, supporting him as he quickly fell to the ground. While the man is lying on the floor, the couple kneel on top of him and he plays maracas as she beats a hand drum.
Searches of the couple’s home and the association’s headquarters near the city of Alicante uncovered 97 substances that violate the 1971 United Nations convention on psychotropic substances, police said.
Samples of a Bufo alvarius toad were found in a safe in the master bedroom, police said. Also known as the Sonoran Desert Toad, the amphibian’s secretions contain a psychedelic substance known as 5-MeO-DMT, which medical researchers have studied as a possible treatment for depression and anxiety. .
Its ritual use emerged last year after Spanish police arrested three people, including a well-known pornographic actor, in connection with the death of a photographer who allegedly died after inhaling toad venom during a ceremony shamanic.
Police said on Saturday they also found the fungus Amanita muscaria, which turns into a powerful hallucinogen when dried, and ibogaine, a drug from a plant that grows in the rainforests of Gabon that has been linked to slowing the heart rate to dangerously low levels and a interaction with the electrical signals of the organ.
The couple “did not have any qualifications or professional training” that would allow them to supply psychoactive or hallucinogenic substances to people, police added. Both have been accused of breaking public health laws.