Former CIA employee Mary Embree discusses the infamous heart attack gun. The weapon was first made public during the Church Committee hearings in 1975. Very lethal and untraceable, using this weapon a murder is made to look natural. There is little doubt that the CIA has most likely improved upon it since the 1970’s.

Although the heart attack was first revealed to large parts of the public through the Church Committee in 1975, the research behind this gun is much older.

The CIA had a relationship with the Special Operations Division at Fort Detrick since May 1952 and from there obtained poison dart guns and similar items. Such guns, as the heart-attack gun could look like a pistol, but there were also versions which were disguised as a cane, fountain pen, or umbrella.

This clip is an excerpt from “Secrets of the CIA” 1998

Those darts could be coated with various toxins. AFAIK the name of the alleged untraceable cardiotoxin (it could probably be detected with modern methods anyway,) was never given to the public by Mary Embree.

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An Applied Science and Analysis newsletter goes into great detail as to the actual chemical composition of the chemicals most likely used.

It is possible that Mary Embree was talking about Saxitoxin. Here is how high doses of Saxitoxin effect the heart of cats: Toxic effects, pharmacokinetics, and clearance of saxitoxin, a component of paralytic shellfish poison (PSP), in cats.

Low doses of STX made no difference in hemodynamics parameters. In contrast, high doses drastically reduced blood pressure, produced myocardial failure and finally cardiac arrest.

Saxitoxin can enter the body via open wounds and a lethal dose of 0.05 mg/person by this route has been suggested. Saxitoxin is 1,000 times more toxic than the potent nerve gas sarin. Saxitoxin is a potent neurotoxin that specifically and selectively binds the sodium channels in neural cells. Thus, it physically occludes the opening of the Na+ channel and prevents any sodium cations from going in or out of the cell. Since neuronal transmittance of impulses and messages depends on the depolarization of the inside of the cell, the action potentials are stopped, impairing a variety of bodily functions, including breathing. Saxitoxin acts in a similar manner to Botulinum toxin because it is a cholinergic agonist that inhibits the release of acetylcholine at synapses in the peripheral nervous system. Human nerves are especially sensitive to the toxins and in the early stages of PSP, victims experience tingling and numbness of the mouth, tongue, face and extremities. Nausea and vomiting may accompany the above symptoms. In severe cases, the patient will exhibit advanced neurological dysfunction such as ataxia, weakness, dizziness, numbing of the lips, mouth and tongue, fatigue, difficulty breathing, and sense of dissociation followed by complete paralysis. The diaphragm and the diaphragm may stop working and death can occur after cardio-respiratory failure. –ASA

The actual dosage is dependent upon what amount of toxin could be attached to a single dart. If directly injected into the bloodstream, about 50 µg might be enough to kill an average-sized man. For a faster cardio-respiratory failure the amount needed would probably be much higher. Saxitoxin is also listed under cardiotoxins in the Wikipedia entry.


In 1960, the CIA purchased from the Army at Fort Detrick, Maryland a poison-dart weapon system, consisting of small flechette-type projectiles, self-propelled by solid-state rocket fuel, and launched by a series of devices, including umbrellas. The flechettes were about 5mm in diameter and about an inch long. The poisons carried were of two types. One was a lethal poison, apparently used against enemies in Vietnam. The other was a quick-acting, paralyzing poison that took effect in less than two seconds and lasted for several hours. This was intended for use against dogs guarding a secured enemy area. It had to cause paralysis fast enough to prevent the dog from barking.

The flechettes were about 5mm in diameter and about an inch long. The poisons carried were of two types. One was a lethal poison, apparently used against enemies in Vietnam. The other was a quick-acting, paralyzing poison that took effect in less than two seconds and lasted for several hours. This was intended for use against dogs guarding a secured enemy area. It had to cause paralysis fast enough to prevent the dog from barking.

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