Elvish Yadav Arrested: How Dangerous is Snake Venom as a Recreational Drug?

An FIR was registered under the Wildlife (Protection) Act against Elvish Yadav for allegedly supplying snake venom.

3 min read

YouTuber Elvish Yadav was arrested by Noida Police on Sunday, 17 March, in connection with a probe into the suspected use of snake venom as a recreational drug at a party in November 2023.

Yadav was among six people named in an FIR lodged at Sector 49 police station in Noida on 3 November last year. The case was later shifted from Sector 49 to Sector 20 police station for investigation.

The FIR was based on a complaint by People for Animals, an NGO run by BJP MP Maneka Gandhi, and was registered under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and under Section 102B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

"During the investigation, evidence was found regarding the use of snake venom in parties, the report of which was received from the Forensic Science Laboratory," the police said.

Five others were arrested in November, and later released on bail.

As Yadav has now been arrested, The Quint explains how dangerous snake venom as a recreational drug is – and what do various studies say about it.


How common is the use of snake venom as a recreational drug?

A study published by the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine in 2018 discusses the use of snake venom as a substitute for opioids. The study states that "derivatives from reptiles such as snakes, reptiles, and scorpions can also be used for recreational purposes and as a substitute for other substances."

However, the study says that the use is rare, and the related literature about snake venom is 'very limited’.

While PubMed shows that four cases of recreational use of snake venom reported, all four are also from India.


How does snake venom work as a recreational drug?

According to studies, when snake venom enters a person's bloodstream, it releases serotonin, bradykinin, peptides, prostaglandins, among others, which have hypnotic and sedative properties.

"The hypnotic and euphoric effects of potentially lethal envenomation have no simple explanation. One possibility is a dry bite, in which just a small amount of venom enters the human body, causing a psychoactive effect. Psychotropic property of cobra venom partially resembles to the action of morphine," a 2022 study published in Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology said.


Venom from which sources have been used for recreation in past reported cases?

The venoms that are used are from: common krait (Bungarus caeruleus), cobra (Naja naja), green snake (Opheodrys vernalis), rat snake, and green vine.

What are the common symptoms?

The effect after bite varies from individual to individual, points a 2022 study published in the Indian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology.

"Increased sense of well-being, lethargy, grandiosity, blurred vision, giddiness, drowsiness, feeling of dizziness and intense persistent euphoria, intense state of arousal are all common symptoms after a snakebite," the study pointed.

What does the FIR say?

Gaurav Gupta, Animal Welfare Officer at People for Animals NGO, had told The Quint in November 2023: "We have been receiving information for a long time that a YouTuber named Elvish Yadav shoots videos with snake venom and live snakes along with other people in the farmhouses of Delhi-NCR. He also organises rave parties, where snake venom is consumed as intoxicants."

Noida Deputy Commissioner of Police Ram Badan Singh had told the media that Gupta tipped off the police that he had, as part of a sting operation, contacted the YouTuber to purchase snake venom for a rave party at Noida’s Sector 51. Gupta reportedly told the police that Yadav had put him in touch with a man named Rahul Yadav to complete the deal.

A total of nine snakes were found from the arrested accused, including five cobras, one python, two two-headed snakes and one rat snake, Divisional Forest Officer Pramod Kumar Srivastava said. Apart from this, 20 ml snake venom has also been found, the DCP had said.

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