Authorities in Medellín announced on Wednesday that three Americans had died in just four days in the Colombian city. These tragedies occur in a context marked by an increase in violent thefts of which foreign tourists are victims. Lured on dating apps, they are then drugged and then robbed.
In recent weeks, the American Embassy and Medellín City Hall have warned of an increase in deaths caused by scopolamine, a drug used to steal and erase victims’ memories. When administered in large quantities or combined with alcohol, scopolamine can be fatal.
“These are not isolated incidents”
The three Americans who died in recent days are Dakarai Earl Cobb, Anthony Lopez and Manley Mark Conley. Aged 47, the first was discovered this Monday in a hotel in western Medellín. His personal effects were missing.
The second, 29 years old, was found dead the day before in a room he shared with two women. The third died the previous Saturday after falling from an apartment he was renting on the 17th floor of a building in the El Poblado neighborhood. On January 19, a Lithuanian man also reportedly killed himself by jumping from the 12th floor of a local hotel.
“These are (criminal) structures, these are not isolated incidents,” Manuel Villa, the city’s security secretary, told local press on Wednesday. Of these four deaths occurring so far in 2024, Mr. Villa notes that at least two follow “the use of dating platforms”.
1.5 million tourists in 2023
According to official figures, which are probably underestimated, seven foreign tourists including three Americans died last year in Medellín after being drugged by young women met on specialized applications. This phenomenon also affects the capital Bogota. When they do not turn into homicide, these thefts sometimes lead to kidnapping. Ransoms are then demanded in exchange for release.
At the end of 2023, the American embassy advised its nationals not to use dating applications in Colombia. According to Medellín City Hall, the number of foreign visitors increased from 212,000 in 2015 to 1.5 million in 2023, which partly explains the increase in violence. Known to be a mecca for global sex tourism (prostitution is legal there), the “city of eternal spring” has 2.6 million inhabitants.