Poles in Czechia sentenced for selling hallucinogenic Peruvian brew

The group was convicted of holding shamanistic rituals in a recreation center in Moravia.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 28.01.2022 12:28:00 (updated on 28.01.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

A plan to create a center for South American shamanic rituals in northern Moravia has resulted in prison sentences and property loss for the organizers. They were making and distributing a hallucinogenic beverage called ayahuasca, which while legal in a few countries, is banned in the Czech Republic.

The Ostrava Regional Court gave out prison sentences of five-and-a-half and eight-and-a-half years to a Polish couple for trading in the hallucinogenic drink, and a third person ended up with a suspended sentence. In addition, they will be expelled from the country and the house in the Nový Jičín district that was used for the beverage-fueled rituals has been confiscated.

The three organizers reportedly collected over CZK 10 million from their clients for the intoxicating drinks and use of the shamanic center. The prosecution described the Polish couple and their acquaintance as an organized criminal group dealing in illegal drugs. The defendants pleaded not guilty and said the case was based on speculation and unsupported allegations.

The trio allegedly bought ayahuasca concentrate from Peru from some time in 2015 until October 2019.

Over that time, they imported over 200 kilograms of concentrate, which they used to make 300 liters of the beverage. They used the drink for at least 100 rituals. Each participant paid the equivalent of about CZK 8,400, according to the prosecution.

The total of 1,300 participants were exclusively from Poland, Denmark, or Germany. None were Czech citizens or residents. According to Judge Miroslav Mucha, this was intended to minimize talk about the rituals and the shaman center within the Czech Republic, so the activities would not come to the attention of local authorities.

Jarosław K., who received the harshest sentence, allegedly arranged the deals in Peru and gradually brought the drink concentrate first to Poland and then to the Czech Republic. He and the convicted acquaintance, Petr K., then bought a recreational facility for the shaman ceremonies in the village of Heřmanice u Oder.

Jarosław K.’s wife, Karolína, found the clients for the ceremonies. Jarosław K. acted as shaman with his wife as his assistant. She took care of the participants while they were under the influence of the beverage and provided musical accompaniment during the sessions, according to the court.

Jarosław K. admitted to drinking the beverage but denies serving it to anyone else. His wife admitted to participating in ceremonies, but denied responsibility for them and said she was being punished for her husband’s bad decisions. Petr K. denied any knowledge of the events.

Ayahuasca is used both socially and as ceremonial spiritual medicine among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon basin. It is legal in Peru, Brazil, Costa Rica, and Mexico. The only place in Europe that allows it is Italy, as courts there have held it can be used since it is not specifically banned.

The drink is made out of the Banisteriopsis caapi vine, the Psychotria viridis shrub, and possibly other ingredients. It contains the hallucinogen DMT, among other active ingredients.

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