After the Club, They Spotted the Puncture Mark

A mysterious wave of needle attacks is being reported in France and beyond
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 2, 2022 12:00 PM CDT
In Europe, a Puzzling Wave of Nightclub Needle Attacks
Youths walk on quay Des Anneaux near the Warehouse nightclub, Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in Nantes, western France.   (AP Photo/Jeremias Gonzalez)

Across France, 302 people have reported being pricked out of the blue with needles at nightclubs or concerts in recent months. Doctors and multiple prosecutors are on the case, but no one knows who's doing it or why, and whether the victims have been injected with drugs—or indeed any substance at all. Club owners and police are trying to raise awareness, and a rapper even interrupted his recent show to warn concert-goers about the risk of surprise needle attacks. It's not just France: Britain’s government is studying a spate of "needle spiking" there, and police in Belgium and the Netherlands are investigating scattered cases, too, reports the AP.

The targeted individuals, who are mostly women, show visible marks of injection, often bruises, and report symptoms like feeling groggy. Several police investigations are ongoing in different regions, but no suspect has been arrested yet, no needle has been found, and the motive remains unclear. No victims have reported sexual assault. An official with the national police agency said: "At this stage, we can’t talk about a specific modus operandi. There aren’t any similarities between the cases. The only thing similar is that people are being injected with a needle in a festive context in different places in France."

The AP shares some victims' stories: On May 4, 18-year-old Tomas Laux attended a rap concert in Lille in northern France, where he smoked a bit of marijuana and drank some alcohol during the show. When he came home, he was feeling dizzy and had a headache—and he spotted a strange little skin puncture on his arm and a bruise. The next morning, the symptoms didn’t disappear and Laux went to his doctor, who advised him to go to the emergency room. Medics confirmed evidence of a needle prick, and Laux was tested for HIV and hepatitis. His results came out negative, like other victims' so far. "I've given up going to concerts since it happened," Laux says.

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Hundreds of miles away, Leanne Desnos recounted a similar experience after going to a club in the southwest city of Bordeaux in April. Desnos, also 18, passed out the next day, and felt dizzy and had hot flashes while at a fast food restaurant. When she got home, she realized she had an injection mark on her arm. After having seen testimony on social media about the mystery pricks, she went to a clinic to get tested for infections. She is still awaiting results. (Read the full story.)

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