The head of the international organisation that is behind the raid on the “drug of the toad” in Mar del Plata talks

Alberto Varela, from Santa Fe, is the founder of Inner Mastery active in 20 countries and also established in Argentina. His organisation is dedicated to “alternative therapies” with hallucinogens, charged at 2500 pesos per session and is being investigated by the law and the Buenos Aires Police. “It is not a drug, nor is it illegal,” he says.

By Federico Fahsbender, January 20, 2018 [email protected]

Sitting in Madrid, Alberto José Varela from Santa Fe looks at the screen of his phone waiting for news from Mar del Plata. “Our lawyers are already up to speed. We knew everything from the beginning and we started to act,” he says. Two members of his organisation were arrested, in a case which is attracting attention in Argentina particularly due to the current times involving drugs and alternative therapies.

Yesterday evening Buenos Aires police broke into a small house with a cosmic hippie design painted on its facade on Rio Negro Street in Mar del Plata. A cosmic vision was basically what led the Bonaerense to break down and flatten the door under the directives of the prosecutor Leandro Favaro: between rugs and cushions and psychedelic paintings was a tupperware box with some wooden tablets and a bag of a greyish powder. Two people were arrested.

The wooden tablets contained Kambo, a substance secreted by a frog that enters the bloodstream and is used ancestrally by aboriginals and shamans of the Amazon as medicine. Kambo -which does not produce hallucinations- is not something new in Argentina. It has had a small but devoted group of followers for several years that consume it in private meetings that are coordinated by supposed therapists. This group praises its miraculous effects, belonging to a circuit commonly associated with the supposed therapeutic consumption of Ayahuasca.

However, the bag of dust found in the Mar del Plata house is something much stronger and much more novel. According to the Buenos Aires Police, it is the poison of the Bufo Alvarius toad. The toad is native to the Sonoran desert in Mexico and the poison is secreted by the animal’s glands. Dried and then smoked, the substance can produce powerful hallucinations and visions thanks to its presumed presence of molecules of DMT, a powerful psychoactive agent that is also part of Ayahuasca and that is punishable by Argentine law since the updating of the decree of the Law of Drugs in 2016. Its devotees also talk about its therapeutic properties and almost immediate psychological improvements.

The poison of the toad began to appear timidly in Argentina during 2016 and 2017 in “ceremonies” and “workshops” in La Plata and the Federal Capital. One organisation in particular, Inner Mastery International, active in about 20 countries, was responsible for spreading its benefits through talks throughout the country, including at conferences in the last weeks that took place in Mar Azul, Pinamar and Mar del Plata, at the Iruña hotel itself.

Inner Mastery has been registered as a limited company since the end of October with an address on Esmeralda Federal Capital street under the category of “therapies and psychotherapies”. It pays Capital Gains tax and VAT according to records of the AFIP. A company form was found in the raid on Rio Negro Street: Alberto José Varela is the founder of the organisation at a global level.

Today, Inner Mastery has a rare privilege: it is, so far, and if the substance in the bag is Bufo Alvarius poison, the first time the “toad drug” has been seized in a legal proceeding in Argentina.

One of the detainees “is a therapist and psychologist who trained in Spain with us, he is an expert. He was with a collaborator. They are a professional team formally linked to Inner Mastery”, says a concerned Varela from Madrid: “We gave a talk in Mar de Plata and there was interest. They were there because a small group of people had formed who asked for a workshop with the therapies. ” One session, says Varela, can cost between 2,000 and 2,500 pesos, and lasts about four hours.

The case of Inner Mastery is somewhat pioneering: it is it at the vanguard of shamanic therapies with hallucinogens that seeks to be constituted by law, in the face of increasing demand and years of clandestine meetings. There were unpleasant situations that reflected the lack of control in the phenomenon, and where having a clinical doctor and a psychiatrist present for any setbacks is a rarity. In 2014, an Ayahuasca session organised on an island of Tigre by the financier and art gallery owner Ignacio Liprandi and officiated by an aborigine of a Peruvian tribe ended up in accusations of rape and abuse that never reached the courts.

The situation, too, contains the paradox of what can be considered a narcotic drug, what can not, and what the corresponding legal qualification is. Security forces pointed to the Ayahuasca session as an illegal use of medicine. Today, prosecutors and judges point to umbrella criteria and terms such as “new psychoactive substances.”

Varela says “to not use ayahuasca” because “it’s illegal in Argentina” even though it was a theme announced at the last Inner Mastery conference in Mar del Plata. He also assures that the poison of the toad “is not a drug nor is it illegal” since in his calculations “it does not contain DMT, which would make it illegal”. “If there is a prohibited substance, we do not use it,” he says.

For the founder of Inner Mastery, that they search or investigate him is not something out of the ordinary. “I was imprisoned in Spain for fourteen months, but more intensive tests were done on what was seized and they found nothing. Today, we have a centre in Colonia. We want to improve the lives of people with these substances. People with depression, people who are addicted to drugs, come to see us. We always have a doctor available. We have therapeutic support, and integrations afterwards so that the person improves their daily life. Therapies with substances like the ones we use are a hundred times more powerful than any common therapy.”

Both detainees are expected to testify this morning.

(Subsequent to the publication of this news, after making their declarations, the two members of the Inner Mastery company were released pending more exhaustive analyses to determine the type of substances they had in their possession)

ORIGINAL NEWS PIECE: toad-in-the-sea-of-silver /

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