A mysterious wave of hypodermic needle attacks has gripped France and parts of the United Kingdom, with over 300 victims in France alone reportedly suffering strange illnesses and side effects after being punctured by a needle inside clubs and bars.
Now, one arrest has been made related to the attacks, with the alleged perpetrator an illegal Tunisian immigrant, according to French newspaper Le Figaro.
Authorities are hoping that the indictment makes it possible to begin solving the mystery behind the attacks, which have predominately occurred in France and the United Kingdom, along with parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. The suspect, arrested Friday night in Toulon, is currently in pre-trial detention, with investigators attempting to gather more evidence in the case.
Since the beginning of April, unexplained hypodermic needle injections have plagued young people in nightclubs, bars, and festivals throughout France, with complaints lodged in Lille, Béziers, Nantes, Rennes, and Strasbourg, as well as in Grenoble, Nancy, Lyon, Besançon, Valence, and Toulouse.
It remains unclear if suspects are injecting people with a substance or a disease, but governments in all the countries involved have issued warnings and are actively investigating the cases. Some concerts have even been interrupted mid-performance due to audience members reporting being pricked by a syringe.
The Associated Press has interviewed a number of victims who have provided troubling accounts of what they experienced:
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 told The Associated Press, 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 said.
Hundreds of kilometers (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.
Most of the victims have been women who show visible signs of an injection site, along with symptoms of feeling groggy, dizzy, or fatigued. The Associated Press, which ran the story on June 2, indicated that despite multiple investigations going on across Europe, no suspects have been arrested, no motive has been ascertained, and no needles used in the attacks have been recovered.
Now, with the first arrest taking place in France, investigators are hoping for a breakthrough. The illegal migrant in France was arrested after a young woman and a teenager became involved in an alteration with the suspect in which both of them were reportedly punctured with a needle. They told the police they saw the suspect carrying a syringe. The arrested individual is 20 years old, is residing in France without a residence permit, and is unemployed. He was also known to police for a range of previous criminal incidents.
In Toulon, the prosecution had recorded 21 reports of hypodermic needle punctures by the end of the weekend. It is unclear if the Tunisian is responsible for any of these additional cases.
In 2020, he was sentenced to prison for domestic violence against his partner. However, because he is a father, it has been difficult to deport him from the country. The individual continues to vigorously deny his guilt, despite the statements of two witnesses.
While the arrest of the Tunisian migrant may represent a breakthrough in the case, it may ultimately lead to a dead end. In all likelihood, multiple suspects are involved in the attacks, as they are spread over a wide geographic area.