Last month, a respected ayahuasca shaman was shot dead in a village in Peru. Olivia Arévalo Lomas has been described as a "Gloria Steinem" figure for her Indigenous community. The 81-year-old's death was a shock to the people in Ucayali Province, and to the growing global community around ayahuasca, a psychedelic brew native to the Amazon.
But the story doesn't end there. When Lomas's devotees found out she was killed, they traced the crime to the chief suspect, a Canadian named Sebastian Woodroffe who had been studying medicinal plants under Lomas. In what appears to be a brutal lynching, two men killed 41-year-old Woodroffe and then dragged his body behind a car before burying it. Peruvian prosectors say that the bullet cartridges used to kill Lomas could be traced back to his gun.
These deaths have sent ripples through the network of global ayahuasca advocates, who continuously struggle to navigate the potential risks of ayahuasca tourism in the Indigenous communities of the Amazon. Reporter Allison Tierney has been following this story as it unfolds.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.