The CIA caused an entire French village to go mad nearly 60 years ago by spiking their baguettes with the mind-bending drug LSD, a new investigation claims.
Hundreds of residents in Pont-Saint-Esprit, southern France, were driven to mass hysteria and hallucinations in the 'cursed bread' incident in August 1951.
Five people died and dozens were sent to mental asylums in strait jackets in one of the most bizarre mysteries in France.
One man tried to drown himself, screaming that his belly was being eaten by snakes. An 11-year-old boy tried to strangle his grandmother.
A man shouted 'I am a plane' before jumping out of a second-floor window and breaking his legs.
Another saw his heart escaping through his feet and begged a doctor to put it back.
Baffled villagers had always blamed the incident on a local baker whose bread could have been tainted with mercury or psychedelic mould.
But U.S. journalist H P Albarelli says he has now uncovered CIA documents revealing the agency caused the madness to test the effects of LSD in a secret mind-control experiment.
The incident, which took place at the height of the Cold War, was initially investigated by a Swiss pharmaceutical company Sandoz who have been revealed as the same people who secretly supplied the CIA with LSD.
One note uncovered by Albarelli is a transcript of a conversation between a CIA agent and a Sandoz official who mentions the 'secret of Pont-Saint-Esprit' and explains it was caused by diethylamide the D in LSD.
Mr Albarelli added: ‘The real smoking gun was a White House document sent to members of the Rockefeller Commission formed in 1975 to investigate CIA abuses.
‘It contained the names of a number of French nationals who had been secretly employed by the CIA and made direct reference to the Pont St. Esprit incident.’
Locals in Pont-Saint-Esprit still want to know what caused the mass insanity Villager Charles Granjoh, 71, was one those affected.
He said: ‘At the time people brought up the theory of an experiment aimed at controlling a popular revolt.
‘I almost kicked the bucket and I'd like to know why.’