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Spain porn star held after man dies in toad venom ritual

·1 min read
Spanish police arrested porn star Nacho Vidal on suspicion of manslaughter and crimes against public health (AFP Photo/Josep LAGO)

Madrid (AFP) - A porn star has been arrested on manslaughter charges following a man's death during a mystic ritual in which he inhaled psychedelic toad venom, Spanish police said Wednesday.

Nacho Vidal was detained last week in the southeastern Valencia region in connection with the death of a man in July 2019.

Media identified the victim as fashion photographer Jose Luis Abad.

"The police operation began following the victim's death during the celebration of a mystic ritual based on the inhalation of venom of the bufo alvarius toad," a police statement said.

The toad, a rare species which is native to the Sonoran Desert, stretching from northern Mexico into California and Arizona, secretes venom containing a very powerful natural psychedelic substance known as 5-MeO-DMT.

Its effects have been compared to ayahuasca, a powerful hallucinogenic concoction from the Amazon consumed as part of a shamanic ritual.

Following an 11-month inquiry, police arrested Vidal, one of his relatives and an employee on suspicion of manslaughter and crimes against public health.

Investigators said they had discovered such rituals were being carried regularly on grounds they offered medicinal benefits.

But in reality, this "apparently harmless ancestral ritual" posed a "serious health risk", luring people who were "easily influenced, vulnerable or who were seeking help for illnesses or addictions using alternative methods".

Local press said the ceremony took place in the country residence of Vidal, a media-savvy porn star in his mid-40s whose Twitter feed is full of ads for his 25-centimetre aromatic candles of the male genitalia, available in black, white or cerise.