A US writer has uncovered evidence suggesting that the CIA experiment spiked a French village’s bread supply with the hallucinogenic drug LSD.
Journalist Hank P. Albarelli Jr. came across CIA documents while investigating the suspicious suicide of a biochemist who fell from a 13th-floor window two years after a mystery illness that caused an entire French village to go mad in the mid-1950s.
The mystery of Le Pain Maudit (Cursed Bread) still haunts the inhabitants of Pont-Saint-Esprit, in the Gard, southeast France. Hundreds of residents were suddenly struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations on August 16, 1951. At least five people in the southern French village died and dozens were locked up in asylums after witnessing terrifying hallucinations of beasts and fire.
Among the horror scenes, an 11-year-old tried to strangle his grandmother. Another man shouted: “I am a plane”, before jumping out of a second-floor window, breaking his legs. He then got up and carried on for 50 yards. While another drowned himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. Many were taken to the local asylum in strait jackets.
Time magazine wrote at the time: “Among the stricken, delirium rose: patients thrashed wildly on their beds, screaming that red flowers were blossoming from their bodies, that which their heads had turned to molten lead.”
For decades the bizarre “Cursed Bread” incident was blamed on a local baker whose baguettes had been poisoned with either a psychedelic mold or mercury. Although, one document transcribes a conversation between a CIA agent and a Sandoz official who mentions the “secret of Pont-Saint-Esprit” and explains that it was not “at all” caused by mold but by diethylamide – the D in LSD.
Hank P. Albarelli Jr., an investigative journalist, claims the outbreak resulted from a covert experiment directed by the CIA and the US Army’s top-secret Special Operations Division (SOD) at Fort Detrick, Maryland.
The incident took place at the height of the Cold War and was ironically investigated by a Swiss pharmaceutical company Sandoz. The company which has been revealed as the same organization that secretly supplied the CIA with LSD. The same Sandoz Pharmaceuticals company that once had over 100 million doses of LSD which were available to anyone who cared to purchase them.
The French Government has officially denied any involvement in the case. According to US reports, the French intelligence chief has demanded the CIA explain itself. Although, to no one’s surprise the CIA has yet to come forward.