The VICE Guide to Right Now

Porn Star Nacho Vidal Arrested Over ‘Mystic Ritual’ Where a Man Died From Tripping on Psychedelic Toad Venom

The Spanish adult entertainer is said to have played the shaman in the ceremony that led to a photographer’s death.
05 June 2020, 10:52am
Hallucinogenic frog
Photo by H. Krisp / CC BY

In July 2019, a bunch of people in the Spanish town of Enguera decided to hold a shamanic ritual. This special ceremony involved “highly suggestible people who were especially vulnerable and were seeking alternative ways to cure certain ailments or addictions”. Which basically means a bunch of people were there to trip on hallucinogenic toad venom.

The infamous hallucinogen, which is said to induce an intense psychedelic experience, is often used as a form of alternative therapy, especially in the Amazon forest. However, the shamanic ceremony went awry after a photographer named Jose Luis Abad inhaled the substance secreted from the glands of the bufo alvarius, a North American toad, and subsequently died. Now, almost a year later, the police arrested three people in connection with this case, one of whom is popular Spanish porn star Nacho Vidal. However, they have all been released provisionally as the investigation continues.

The adult film actor, along with two other suspects, was under investigation for the last 11 months on suspicions of involuntary manslaughter and violation of public health laws. He was suspected of playing the shaman and presiding over these regularly-held “mystic rituals”, which cops say enticed attendees by promising to provide medical benefits. But investigations revealed that the "apparently inoffensive ancestral ritual" posed a "serious health risk".

However, Vidal’s lawyer, Daniel Salvador, maintains that the death was a complete accident and denied allegations that his client had played shaman at the ritual. According to what he told Spanish news agency Efe: “Nacho is very upset by the death of this person, but he considers himself to be innocent. With all due respect to the dead man and his family, Nacho maintains that the consumption [of the venom] was completely voluntary.”

The Bufo alvarius, also known as the Sonoran Desert toad or Colorado River toad, has a very powerful toxin that they use as defence against predatory threats. This substance is said to mimic a DMT-like trip when inhaled or rubbed on skin with a burning branch, and is seen as a catalyst to seeking spiritual enlightenment.

Follow Shamani Joshi on Instagram.