Porn star Nacho Vidal held in Spain after man dies in toad-venom ritual

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image captionA "mystic ritual" reportedly took place at Mr Vidal's home near Valencia last year

A Spanish porn actor is being investigated on suspicion of manslaughter after a photographer died during a toad-venom ritual, police say.

Nacho Vidal, 46, and two others were briefly detained last Friday over the death.

Spanish police said the photographer died after inhaling the poison of a North American toad.

The "mystic ritual" reportedly took place at Mr Vidal's home near the southern city of Valencia last July.

A lawyer for Mr Vidal said his client "considers himself to be innocent", describing the death as an unfortunate accident.

The photographer, named Jose Luis Abad by Spanish media, used a pipe to inhale the substance, which is secreted from the glands of the bufo alvarius.

image sourceGetty Images
image captionThe toad secretes a toxin that induces hallucinations and euphoria if inhaled by humans

The toad, also known as the Colorado River toad, uses the powerful toxin to defend itself against predators in Mexico and south-western US states, where it is found in the Sonoran Desert.

Known by chemists as 5-MeO-DMT, the natural substance is said to induce an intense psychedelic state when consumed by users, earning it the nickname the God molecule.

A study from 2019 suggested the substance may have therapeutic properties, such as easing anxiety and depression, but acknowledged there was a limited understanding of its effects in humans.

Mr Vidal has previously promoted use of the toad's venom online, including in YouTube videos, according to Spanish newspaper El País.

The actor, who has featured in hundreds of pornographic movies, had been under investigation for 11 months over the death of the photographer, Spanish police said.

Mr Vidal and the two other suspects were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter and violating public health laws. All three were released provisionally.

Investigators said they had discovered toad rituals were being carried out regularly on grounds they offered medicinal benefits.

But the "apparently harmless ancestral ritual" posed a "serious health risk", attracting people who were "easily influenced, vulnerable or who were seeking help for illnesses or addictions using alternative methods", a police statement said.

Mr Vidal's lawyer, Daniel Salvador, said the photographer had "previously tried that substance and wanted to try it again" in a "comfortable" environment.

He denied suggestions that Mr Vidal had acted as a shaman during the ritual, saying his client was "very upset by the death of this person".

"With all due respect to the dead man and his family, Nacho maintains that the consumption [of the venom] was completely voluntary," the lawyer told La Vanguardia newspaper.

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