Harsh light floods the two dance floors of the T Dansant, Bob Sinclar’s mix gives way to silence and around thirty police officers deploy to search the customers of this nightclub in Roanne in the Loire, looking for syringes or suspicious needles as part of a surprise “anti-prick” descent.
“That won’t last long, I promise you, we’ll be back to the music soon“, assures the DJ at the microphone. For about twenty minutes, the police identify the identities, empty the pockets and conduct pat-downs. The goal, to find suspicious syringes or needles.
The approximately 80 customers present in the establishment in the city center complied with good grace to the surprise control operation carried out, a little after one o’clock in the morning, on the night of Friday May 13 to Saturday May 14, 2022.
“It’s weird to see a club all on, all the lights on full, it feels like a restaurant“, is surprised Bastien, a client in his fifties. But for Dylan, a young blond haircut, “it’s normal because of all that’s going on with the bites.“
The operation at the T Dansant in Roanne aims to “show that the police and the prosecution are on the ground and particularly vigilant“Faced with the mysterious phenomenon which has affected the nocturnal and festive world in France for several months, explains the public prosecutor of Roanne, Abdelkrim Grini, present during the control of the T Dansant.
The operation did not reveal any suspicious syringes or needles, analyzes of a vial found under a bench seat showed that it was poppers.
The unexplained wave of bites has affected nightclubs, bars and festivals across the country in recent months, with complaints filed from Lille to Béziers and from Lorient to Grenoble, via Lyon, Besançon or Valence.
A total of 250 people have come forward to police saying they were bitten and “only one showed positive GHB serology“, according to a national report obtained by AFP from a police source in Paris.
Victims evoke a stinging sensation, sometimes painful, sometimes accompanied by nausea, dizziness, chills or even convulsion. Others say they have “felt nothing“, like this 18-year-old high school girl who filed a complaint after being bitten on April 22 at the T Dansant where she was celebrating a birthday with friends.
“I was accompanying a friend to the bathroom (….) when a boy touches my buttocks“, told AFP the young girl who prefers to remain anonymous. She discovered on returning home “a large hematoma with a sting with a red dot in the center on the right buttock“.
She immediately went to the hospital, which gave her preventive anti-HIV and anti-hepatic treatments. A judicial inquiry has been opened for “intentional violence and intentional administration of a harmful substance“, an offense punishable by three years in prison.
And the high school student decided not to go back to the nightclub: “I erased the word from my head, I don’t think I’ll go back. We are much better in evenings with friends that we know“.
Dylan, he comes to the T Dansant, even if “we think about it a little deep down in the unconscious“. In the Loire, there are about twenty complaints, four nightclubs out of the thirty in the department are concerned, according to figures from the prefecture and the Union of Trades and Industries of the Hotel Industry (UMIH).
Nightclub owners try to organize themselves, by checking the contents of customers’ bags and pockets or by reinforcing video surveillance. Solutions far from sufficient, by their own admission.
“I would put it in the case of my phone – I tried to think about it a bit – I can’t take all the phones apart! It’s impossible. I have 11 doorphones, I can’t put any behind each customer“, told us Véronique Tenneroni, manager of Sunshine in Valence.
For their part, the authorities are mobilizing to provide answers while worrying about the risk of psychosis. The Loire prefecture thus organized a coordination meeting on Friday with representatives of the police, the gendarmerie and the night sector.
For the Roanne prosecutor, it is important to be “in the field of prevention by drawing the attention of young people“, let them know”that they have to be vigilant, that they have to be careful because unfortunately, this phenomenon of wild bites does not fade away“.