Concern peaks as murders targeting foreign tourists surge in Medellín

The prosperous neighborhood of El Poblado was until recent considered extremely safe for foreign tourists, but is now also making negative headlines. Photo: ABC Online Media

MEDELLÍN – In the popular Colombian city of Medellín, there is great concern due to a wave of murders of foreign tourists, especially men, who have visited the city in recent months.

Just last week alone, there were five fatal victims, including now for the first time a 57-year-old man with Dutch nationality. What adds to the extra concern is that some of the murders also occur in the popular El Poblado neighborhood, previously regarded as very safe for foreigners.

In almost all cases, it involves men who meet Colombian beauties through so-called dating apps and who, after a night out, are found dead in their own hotel room. It is suspected that gangs use attractive women to lure their victims and then rob them, sometimes with fatal consequences.

The Dutch victim arrived at his hotel on Calle 11C after midnight on Friday with two women, whom he took to his room. The two women left the hotel around 5 in the morning, but without the man. Later in the morning, the lifeless body of the Dutchman was found when chambermaids entered the room and found the lifeless victim.

In many of the robberies in the nightlife scene, the intoxicating substance Scopolamine is used, which is relatively easy to obtain in Colombia. When administered, the substance, which is virtually odorless and tasteless and therefore easy to add to drinks without being noticed, often leaves victims awake only after more than 24 hours. In many cases, there is moderate to significant memory loss. In some cases, victims also die from the use of Scopolamine, due to the conscious or unconscious administration of an overdose.


After the murder of at least five American citizens in the past months, the U.S. government now considers the city ‘very dangerous’ for foreigners. At the end of last year, a total of 30 tourists died in the city through a similar modus operandi.

The mayor of Medellín, Federico Andrés Gutiérrez, is also concerned about the reputation of the popular city. In order to reduce the number of murders of foreign tourists, he wants to curb the rampant sex tourism in the city, as well as drug use in the nightlife scene.

In doing so, Gutiérrez is in fact overlooking the real problem, namely an increasing insecurity and the presence of gangs that increasingly target foreign tourists who, by local standards, are relatively affluent.

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