Date Rape Drugs

By DePresca, John | Law & Order, October 2003 | Go to article overview

Date Rape Drugs


DePresca, John, Law & Order


Roofies, saltwater and Special K are not the ingredients to make a low fat, diet breakfast or the name of the next heavy metal band coming to town. They are terms you may very well hear when investigating your next sexual assault case. Because a rapist may not be able to take delight in a normal relationship, he uses these sinister tools to accomplish his goals.

Sometimes crime is easy to solve. Videotapes, latent prints, eyewitness accounts and good descriptions of a suspect all make the investigator's job, at times, not so difficult. However, there are those cases that will drive us to use every deductive fiber, training, skill and even luck to successfully bring a case to the prosecutor. How about a case where the victim tells you she knows a crime has been committed against her but can't tell you who did it, where it happened, when in happened, how it happened or why it happened? Every investigator will be called to task when looking into a date rape drug. Rapists now have in their lurid arsenal more than a couple of methods to render their victims helpless.

Rohypnol

This is the oldest drug used in this crime. It is the brand name for flunitrazepam. It is up to 10 times more powerful than valium and halcion and produces a slowing of physical and mental responses, muscle reflexes and amnesia in about 15 minutes. Rohypnol (pronounced ro-hip-nol) is manufactured by Hoffman-LaRoche pharmaceutical company and looks a lot like aspirin. When dropped in a drink, usually an alcoholic beverage, it is colorless and odorless. The drug usually takes full effect on the victim within 30 minutes to one hour of ingestion.

The initial effects on the victim may include confusion, a light-headed feeling or disorientation and have similar actions as one who is intoxicated by alcohol. As the drug progresses through the bloodstream, a feeling of lowered values and a loss of inhibitions occurs and eventually the victim is physically unable to resist the sexual attack.

Some victims may describe an almost "out of body experience" where they are aware of being undressed and assaulted but are not able to react. They may wake up in eight to 12 hours and only have minimum, if any, recall as to what has taken place. If a high dosage is given, this blackout time can increase to 24 hours.

Rohypnol is not legally produced or dispensed anywhere in the United States. It is, however, legally used by doctors in almost 70 countries across South America, Latin America and Europe. In those countries it is administered in surgery where the patient may have to respond or cooperate during the procedure. In Mexico, one tablet can be bought for about 40 cents and sold here from anywhere between two and six dollars on the black market, thus making it a relatively affordable drug.

A simple and straightforward method of smuggling it into this country is wrapping it as a package and mailing it through the postal service or an overnight delivery service. Individuals, of course, transport it across borders by hiding it in their luggage or on their bodies.

One of the more popular street names for Rohpynol is "roofies." This term may have evolved after the devastating hurricane Andrew struck the southern part of Florida in 1992 and the drug was brought to the area by roofing workers. Other terms include: rope, R-2, rib, Roach-2 and Mexican valium. It is normally a white or off-white tablet about the size of an aspirin and has a cross or single-lined hash mark on one side and the word "Roche" with the number 1 or 2 on the other side. (Hence, the street term "Roach-2.")

Older tablets were produced in a 2 mg. dosage but now are produced in only 1 mg. The manufacturer, Hoffman-LaRoche, has gotten an enormous amount of negative press over the years and has tried to clean up its image by developing the drug so it will change colors when introduced in a liquid. This new variety of tablet will turn the liquid a bluish color in about 15 minutes. …

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