PARIS (AP) – Across France, more than 300 people have reported being injected with needles in nightclubs or at concerts in recent months. Doctors and several prosecutors are dealing with the case, but no one knows who is doing it and why, and whether the victims were drugged – or any substances at all.
Club owners and police are trying to raise awareness, and the rapper even interrupted his recent show to warn concertgoers of the risk of sudden needle attacks.
It’s not just France: the UK government is studying a number of “needles” there, and police in Belgium and the Netherlands are also investigating individual cases.
On May 4, 18-year-old Thomas Lo attended a rap concert in Lille in northern France, where he smoked some marijuana and drank alcohol during the show. When he came home, as he told the Associated Press, he felt dizzy and had a headache – and he noticed a strange small puncture in the skin on his arm and a bruise.
The next morning the symptoms did not go away, and Locks went to the doctor, who advised him to go to the emergency room. Doctors confirmed evidence of a needle prick, and Locks was tested for HIV and hepatitis. His results, as in other victims, were negative.
“I’ve refused to go to concerts since it happened,” Lo said.
Hundreds of kilometers (miles) Liane Desnos told about a similar experience after she went to a club in the southwestern city of Bordeaux in April. Desnos, also 18, lost consciousness the next day, in a fast food restaurant feeling dizzy and hot flashes. When she returned home, she realized that she had an injection mark on her arm. Seeing testimonies about mysterious injections on social networks, she went to the clinic to be examined for infection. She is still waiting for the results.
People from Paris, Toulouse, Nantes, Nancy, Reno and other French cities report being stabbed with a needle without their knowledge or permission. For the purpose of individuals who are mostly women, visible traces of injections are often bruises, and report symptoms such as a feeling of weakness.
The French National Police Agency reports that 302 people have filed formal complaints about such needle injections. Several police investigations are ongoing in different regions, but so far no suspect has been arrested, a needle has not been found and the motives remain unclear.
No victims reported sexual assault; one said he was robbed in April in Grenoble, the newspaper Le Monde reported.
Two people tested positive on GHB and they could drink the drug in beverages, according to a national police official. GHB, a powerful anesthetic used by predators who seek sexual or violent violence, can only be detected in the urine within 12 hours, the official said.
The official and the doctor, who is taking the lead in combating this phenomenon, expressed doubts that the injections in the nightclub contain GHB, noting that to penetrate the needle the drug must be administered within seconds, which most victims noticed b.
“We found no drugs, no substances, no objective evidence of … the introduction of a substance with illegal or criminal intent. We are most afraid of people who become infected with HIV, hepatitis or any infectious disease, ”said Dr. Emanuel Puscarczyk, head of the poisonous center in Nancy in eastern France.
A special procedure for optimizing the assistance to the victims has been set up at Nancy Hospital. Patients who show symptoms such as apathy are treated, and blood and urine samples are kept for five days in case anyone wants to charge.
“Every case is different. We see traces of injections, but some people have no symptoms. If potential victims have symptoms such as discomfort or black holes (in their memory), they are not specific, ”Puskarchyk said.
A police officer, whose name was not authorized to be made public in accordance with national police policy, said: “At this stage, we cannot talk about a specific course of action. There is no similarity between the cases. The only thing that seems to be the fact that in different parts of France in a festive context, a needle is inserted.
Due to the fact that club visitors express fear on social networks, and media coverage heats up the alarm, the French Ministry of Internal Affairs this month launched a national public awareness campaign. Police are handing out leaflets to clubbers and discussing prevention measures with club owners.
In the UK in April, Parliament released a report on alcohol and needles in pubs and nightclubs following a sudden rise in such incidents last year. It says police reported 1,000 cases of needle injections across the country around October 2021, when a mass of students returned to campuses after easing restrictions on the coronavirus.
However, the parliamentary report says there is not enough data to judge the seriousness of the problem. It is unclear whether anyone has been prosecuted for needle injections or how many victims have injected drugs or other substances.
“No one knows how common injections are, whether through alcohol, drugs or needles, and no one knows what makes criminals do it. Anecdotal evidence suggests that this practice is widespread and dangerous, “the statement said.
A series of similar incidents involving people being injected with needles in nightclubs, at a football match and during a Belgian parade has been reported in neighboring Belgium. Last month, the Brussels prosecutor’s office launched two investigations into the complaints of women who said they were beaten during a parade of honor in central Brussels. The organizers of the march said in a statement that they were informed about several cases and called on potential victims to be examined in hospitals.
Returning to France when the investigation continues, the perpetrators have not been found, rapper Dinos interrupted his concert in Strasbourg this week to warn his fans about the risks, and insisted: “It must stop.”
Sylvia Hui in London and Samuel Petrekin in Brussels contributed.