The drug squad announced on Friday that Europol and Interpol had been alerted to locate and arrest a Colombian man thought to be the organiser of a ‘spiritual’ ceremony in Larnaca which left a 34-year-old woman dead.
The man, who left the country prior to the gathering at an apartment in Vergina, is also considered to be the provider of the hallucinogen ayahuasca which was consumed by the group.
Initial police investigations have shown that the roughly 20 persons who participated in the ceremony were offered a drink believed to contain ayahuasca.
Police were made aware of the ceremony which took place earlier in the week after the 34-year-old woman from Latvia was rushed to Larnaca general hospital last Tuesday where she was pronounced dead on arrival.
Results from toxicology and histopathological tests conducted on the body of the 34-year-old are expected to show what substances were in the woman’s body and indicate a cause of death.
“Police are continuing investigations and efforts are being made to track down around 20 people who attended the ‘spirit purification’ ceremony,” Larnaca police spokesperson Charalambos Zachariou said.
He added that the majority of the attendees were foreign nationals who do not know each other. “We have already located five to six people from whom we are collecting statements.”
In connection with the death of the 34-year-old, police have also so far arrested a 50-year-old woman from Russia, who is currently being treated in a private clinic in Limassol where she lives.
The woman, who told police she is pregnant, was remanded for six days on Thursday by the Larnaca district court which convened at the clinic.
Larnaca investigators were expected to visit the 50-year-old in the clinic on Friday to take her statement.
The apartment where the ceremony took place, now cordoned off, was swept by police who confiscated several pieces of evidence such as a laptop and other objects belonging to the 50-year-old woman from Russia, who is also suspected in the organisation of the ceremony.
Participants of the ceremony were asked to pay a fee €150, while the 50-year-old had rented out several flats in the apartment block. The ceremony had taken place in a common area of the building.
Regarding the hallucinogenic substance ayahuasca police believe was consumed at the ceremony, drug squad deputy chief Stelios Sergides said that “our information suggests that it was first time that the substance was used in Cyprus.”
Ayahuasca is an entheogenic brew made out of Banisteriopsis caapi vine and other ingredients. The brew is used as a traditional spiritual medicine in ceremonies among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin and is meant to be administered by an experienced shaman. The drug has become popular among spiritual seekers from the West who usually travel to South America for the experience.