“Crime Scene: What You Don’t See”: What you need to know about knockout drops

In Dresden's "Tatort: ​​What you don't see," serial rapist Jan Oschatz (Felix Vogel, 33) uses knockout drops in a particularly perfidious way.

“Crime Scene: What You Don’t See”: What you need to know about knockout drops

In Dresden's "Tatort: ​​What you don't see," serial rapist Jan Oschatz (Felix Vogel, 33) uses knockout drops in a particularly perfidious way. Instead of pouring it into his victims' glasses in clubs or bars, the employee of a property security service gains access to their apartments and prepares drinks containing the sedating substances. This ensures that he is not observed or filmed during his preparations and also minimizes the risk of being caught in the act.

Even if in reality the perpetrators are usually not so sophisticated, they are still rarely held accountable for their crimes. There are many reasons for this.

On the one hand, victims can often no longer remember the sexual assault or the course of the crime after they awaken, which makes it difficult to prove the crime under criminal law. Since knockout drops are often administered in contexts in which other intoxicants such as alcohol or "normal" party drugs are also involved, those affected are often not even aware that they have been drugged with such substances.

Even if they realize that they have been the victim of a knockout attack, their sense of shame - combined with massive gaps in their memory - sometimes prevents them from going to the police. If they bring themselves to take this step, they may not be taken seriously by the officers with their vague descriptions, as they assume excessive alcohol or drug consumption. Another problem with the criminal prosecution of such offenses is that forensic evidence of the substances that could be considered "knockout drops" is difficult and, after a short time, hardly possible.

Organizations that are dedicated to helping victims of such knockout-drop crimes, such as the “White Ring” or the “K.O.-Drop - No Thanks!” initiative, point out that there are no reliable statistics as to how many people become victims of date rape drugs every year. In many federal states, such crimes are not specifically listed in official police reports. It can also be assumed that the number of unreported cases of such crimes is extremely high.

Media reports usually talk about knockout drops in a non-specific manner. However, the liquids used in rape cases can include a wide range of mostly colorless and odorless substances. In earlier years, the drug Rohypnol, used as an anesthetic or sleeping pill, was often used. It contains the active ingredient flunitrazepam from the group of benzodiazepines. This narcotic is also detected in the blood of the victim Sarah Monet in "Crime Scene: What You Don't See".

However, since this active ingredient is difficult to obtain and can be detected relatively easily in the blood, perpetrators now generally resort to other means. In the majority of cases today, the anesthetic GHB (gamma hydroxybutyric acid) is used, often also in its chemical precursor GBL (gamma butyrolactone). While GBL has been subject to the Narcotics Act since 2002, the possession of GBL, which is used, among other things, as a solvent in the chemical industry, remains legal. Both substances are also common in clubs as party drugs (under the names "G" or "Liquid Ecstasy") because, in lower doses, they have a euphoric and disinhibiting effect.

Other substances that can be used as knockout drops include the anesthetic ketamine or other sedatives and psychotropic drugs from the benzodiazepine group such as alprazolam (trade name Xanax), diazepam (trade name Valium).

Police and victim protection organizations urge you never to leave drinks unattended in bars and clubs and not to let strangers bring you drinks from the bar. Anyone who has the impression that they have been the victim of a knockout drop attack should contact the police immediately and report the crime. Only through a report will it be possible to identify perpetrators and protect possible further victims from harm. The local women's emergency hotlines and advice centers also offer support and help for those affected.

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