After France and the United Kingdom, it is Spain’s turn to go on alert because of needlestick attacks in nightclubs.
Two dozen cases were reported across the country in the last month, with emphasis on the tourist resort of Lloret de Mar, 40 minutes from Barcelona, and Pamplona, with some incidents recorded during the last San Fermín festivities.
Victims are mostly young people in their 20s. Most are women. All were in public places with other people, which led the police to rule out, for now, sexual abuse as the main objective of the attackers.
In common, reports from victims point to sudden weakness, loss of consciousness and malaise as the main symptoms. Only one young man in Pamplona claimed to have his wallet stolen after the incident.
The investigation into the cases has not yet disclosed which substance or substances were being used by the attackers. Actives such as benzodiazepines or GHB, also known as ecstasy liquid or ‘date rape drug’, disappear quickly from the bloodstream, which can make it difficult to identify.
“In ten minutes, I passed out, I became semi-conscious, I felt like I had to say yes to everything. I had no strength, I couldn’t control anything,” a 20-year-old girl told the Spanish newspaper El Periódico.
Some nightclubs in Barcelona this week adopted extra security measures to prevent and deal with possible incidents. This includes more cameras, informational posters and more agile protocols in case of attacks.
Although none of the events reported so far in Spain involve sexual abuse, authorities and local entities such as Equipe Ágora remain on alert.
In Spain, according to data from the National Institute of Toxicology, one out of every 3 cases of sexual assault recorded in the last five years has been carried out thanks to practices of chemical submission, whether by alcohol or various drugs.