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A tranquilizer 10 to 20 times more potent than Valium is popping up frequently in Santa Paula, prompting prosecutors to dub the city “roofie capital of Ventura County” and probation officers to step up their searches for the ubiquitous drug.Buy Rohypnol Flunitrazepam online

So far this year, there have been four sexual assaults in Santa Paula involving Rohypnol, commonly known as roofie, and as many as 10 arrests for felony possession, according to Santa Paula police. Det. Daryl Koranda said last year there were more than 20 arrests for possession, and at least two other felony crimes involving the drug, including one homicide.Buy Rohypnol Flunitrazepam online

“It’s gotten worse in the last couple of years and its presence on the streets is becoming a big problem,” Koranda said. “I don’t think it’s an epidemic, but we’re seeing more kids carrying around these roofies than anything else.”

Rohypnol, banned for three years in the United States, gained nationwide attention a few years ago as a “date-rape drug” because it was used to knock out female victims in sexual assaults.Buy Rohypnol Flunitrazepam online

Dropped into drinks, the odorless, tasteless and colorless drug causes victims to pass out and have little or no memory of what occurs. Victims report that they wake up confused and dazed, only to realize later that they have been raped.

Although Rohypnol is still used as a date-rape drug, it is now gaining popularity as a recreational or “party” drug among many Santa Paula youths between the ages of 15 and 22, according to probation and police officers.

In the past two months, probation searches in Santa Paula have uncovered large numbers of Rohypnol pills, according to Mark Varela, supervising deputy probation officer for the west county.

“This has become the new party drug of choice here,” Varela said. “We are trying to educate ourselves on it. . . .”

Deputy Dist. Atty. Miles Weiss, who supervises the juvenile unit, said there have been several juvenile cases involving Rohypnol in the past year.

Last April, gunfire broke out between rival gang members in Santa Paula because of an alleged sexual affair. The incident left a 17-year-old dead and an adult wounded. Several of the witnesses and the victim had been taking roofies, according to Koranda.

On New Year’s Eve, another 17-year-old male gave Rohypnol to a 14-year-old female. When she passed out, he sexually assaulted her, authorities said.

And last month, a Santa Paula juvenile on probation was searched and found to be in possession of 100 Rohypnol pills in a plastic bag.

Weiss said that Rohypnol has probably been around Santa Paula for a while, but is just now raising the attention of law enforcement officers.

“If we hear about a few cases with felony-type behavior, it’s probably just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “They are indicative of a more serious underlying problem.”

But narcotics detectives from Simi Valley, Oxnard, Ventura and Port Hueneme say that they have only seen isolated incidents involving Rohypnol.Buy Rohypnol Flunitrazepam online

“We haven’t had any documented rise with Rohypnol or any other date-rape drug here,” said Joe Johnson, a narcotics officer with the Oxnard Police Department. “Usually when they have it there, we have it here. So either it’s not a problem or it’s not being reported.”

The drug, officially known as Flunitrazepam, is sold in 80 countries, where doctors prescribe it for insomnia, anxiety, convulsions and muscle tension. In Mexico, the small, white tablets can be purchased over the counter or with an easily obtained prescription. Manufacturers said about 1 million people a day legally use the drug, which has been on the market for 20 years.

It has been illegal to bring Rohypnol into the United States since 1996. In 1998, customs officials seized 1,672 pills in 21 incidents at the major ports of entry in California. And from last October to January of this year, San Diego officials have seized 780 tablets. They suspect that many more Rohypnol pills are being smuggled over the border.

“It’s a problem and you can get it pretty easily in Tijuana,” one San Diego customs investigator said. “My guess is that smugglers are getting more sophisticated and that we’re not getting all of it. Would we like to seize more? Yes. Would we like to get more information on Rohypnol smugglers? Yes.”

Koranda said several young men in Santa Paula make regular trips to Tijuana’s border drugstores to buy bottles of 100 pills for about $50, which they then sell on the streets for five times as much. One pill goes for $5 locally, three for $10 or seven for $20. Rohypnol is prevalent in the gang community, especially among the Crazy Boys, Party Boys and 12th Street Locos, according to Weiss.

“This has gotten popular faster than any other drug we’ve seen,” Weiss said. “It’s cheap, it’s readily available and it’s got a pretty good kick. And I guess the euphoric effects outweigh not being able to recollect details of the previous night.”

Users have said Rohypnol causes them to relax, have no worries and not care about anything. Other effects include dizziness, disorientation, drowsiness, impaired judgment, blackouts and amnesia. They feel the effect within 20 to 30 minutes, and it peaks within one to two hours. And when the drug wears off six to eight hours later, the user can’t remember what occurred. Weiss said the lack of memory and the lack of inhibition create a deadly combination.

Last month, officials from the Drug Enforcement Administration testified to Congress about the dangers of Rohypnol and two other date-rape drugs. They said the drug is addictive, and its effect becomes more deadly when combined with alcohol.

People convicted of possessing or distributing the drug can be sentenced to up to three years in prison. And a bill passed by Congress in 1996 increases the sentence by 20 years if prosecutors prove that the suspect intended to use the drug to commit a violent crime, such as rape.

But prosecutors say it is difficult to prove such intent if suspects were on Rohypnol and cannot recall their actions. Earlier this year, a burglary charge against a teenager was dismissed for that reason. Several hours after taking Rohypnol, the Santa Paula youth crashed his car into a pole. He left the scene and, according to authorities, tried to burglarize a house shortly after. Though he was convicted on a felony hit-and-run, he was let off on an attempted burglary charge.

Prosecutors say that in cases involving Rohypnol, it’s difficult to find credible witnesses, because people–including victims–who have taken the drug have impaired judgment and can’t remember what happened.

Since Rohypnol started being used as a date-rape drug, the manufacturer, Hoffmann-LaRoche Inc., has been limiting direct sales, working with law enforcement and developing printed warnings for the public. The Swiss company has also altered the drug so that it will take about 40 minutes longer to dissolve and will release a blue dye as it does.

“It’s not always a drop-in-the-drink phenomenon,” Hoffmann-La Roche spokeswoman Gail Safian said. “People are doing them as recreational drugs, and taking other drugs, and then getting raped. We can’t solve the drug abuse problem in the world. But we feel we must do whatever we can to reduce the misuse of Rohypnol.”Buy Rohypnol Flunitrazepam online

But Koranda said Rohypnol will continue to be a problem in Santa Paula as long as there is a demand and there are dealers. He said he wants the Police Department to form a special undercover narcotics unit to target roofie users and dealers. “We need to be out there on the streets to really make a dent in this,” he said. “Until then, I don’t see the problem of roofies getting any better.”Buy Rohypnol Flunitrazepam online



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