Sexual violence

Police confirm six complaints in Catalonia for needle spiking in nightclubs

Police ask victims seek medical care swiftly in order to identify the substance used

Aniol Costa-Pau
2 min
A discotheque in an archive image.

BarcelonaCatalan police have confirmed six cases in Catalonia of girls who claim to have received injections while dancing in a club. The first precedent was detected last July 10 in Lloret de Mar, when an 18-year-old reported she had noticed a jab in her arm on the dance floor of St. Trop' nightclub. The victim explained to ARA that she felt a sting in the area she was jabbed, as well as general discomfort, and her arm was completely numb for over two hours.

In fact, according to the Catalan police, all reports of possible chemical submissions using injections that they are investigating happened in Lloret, except the most recent case – the sixth – which happened in Barcelona. Police spokeswoman Montserrat Escudé has explained to Catalunya Ràdio that just this Monday they contacted the latest case, that of two girls who this weekend explained on Instagram stories that they had received an injection in the arm and one in the leg in Les Enfants nightclub in Barcelona. Following the media stir after the messages, the police contacted the authors of the messages and, according to Escudé, they will file a complaint this Tuesday. In all cases, the victims are young people between 20 and 25 who would suffered the jabs while they were in nightclubs.

However, for the moment, none of the six open police investigations have been able to determine whether the girls received the injection of some kind of psychotropic or sedative substance. That is why, in statements to ARA, the police insist that "as the puncture itself is not a crime, it is essential that victims provide a toxicological analysis to help clarify the motivations of this new practice". They ask, therefore, that girls who notice this type of jab go quickly to a medical centre to be able to identify the traces of a possible drug in their blood before it disappears. Hospitals, however, aware of the sensitivity over this issue, do not want to make public statements on the matter for now and admit that they are working on what protocol to implement in these cases. However, as in any incident with a needle, they guarantee activation of a retroviral treatment against possible HIV or hepatitis infections. Sources at Hospital Clínic have assured ARA that since the beginning of the year they have received some patients who have suffered this type of aggression, but they add that there are "very few".

Right now, the police's goal is to determine the perpetrators' aims, which, from the outset, in none of the six complaints has been linked to a sexual assault or a subsequent robbery. Thus, with all the hypotheses still open, the police force works to "work out the scope of the problem" and does not want to launch any message of psychosis nor generalised alarm. The police spokesperson explained that officers want to be "very rigorous" in order not to create a "climate of terror" about these jabs. Even so, the police admits that these cases generate "much concern and much worry", especially because the modus operandi is still mostly unknowns, and they add that "they are working in coordination with Europol", since France and the United Kingdom have been investigating this practice for months.