Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Andrew Luster

Knock-out Drugs

Knock-out drugs have been around for about as long as lust, and Drew Luster certainly was not the first to use them to satisfy a sexual fetish.

A bottle of halothane
A bottle of halothane

Perhaps most infamously, Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo — Canada's Ken and Barbie sex killers — used the veterinary anesthetic Halothane to sedate Homolka's teenage sister in 1990 in a demented sexual episode that led to the girl's death.

In spy novels, B-movies and the Batman TV serial, chloroform was the knock-out drug of choice — a few drops on a hanky held tight to someone's nose always sent him to la-la land after a few seconds.

In the 1950s and '60s, ads tucked in the back of boys' magazines lured adolescents to mail in $2 to learn the secrets of hypnosis — another do-as-I-say fantasy.

But there are better alternatives to hypnosis and chloroform, as hippies, clubbers and ravers have discovered over the years.

In the 1970s, young people used depressant Quaaludes to bring on a hypnotic altered state. The drug was occasionally linked to sexual assaults.

In the past ten years, several formerly obscure drugs have found favor at clubs and raves.

One is Rohypnol, known as "roofies." The drug is a powerful tranquilizer from the Valium family. Another is Ketamine, an animal tranquilizer known as "jet" or "special K," which is said to produce an out-of-body sensation.

A third is GHB, whose synthetic form acts as a powerful central nervous system depressant. Minute amounts of GHB are produced naturally by the human body, although its function is not known.

A bottle of GBH
A bottle of GBH

The synthetic version of the drug, first created in the 1920s, has been banned by the Food and Drug Administration since 1990. It was used briefly as an anesthetic and later was popular with bodybuilders as a hormone to stimulate muscle growth.

Like methamphetamine, GHB is produced in secret labs (from recipes available on the Internet) and sold on the rave circuit, usually in liquid form. It is known by many names, including G, Liquid Ecstasy, Liquid X and Liquid E.

In small doses, GHB produces a euphoric intoxication by depressing the central nervous system. It is said to enhance the sexual experience, perhaps by subduing inhibition.

Publicity about the use of roofies in date rapes hit the national media when Newsweek published a story in 1996. A few months later Congress approved the federal Drug-Induced Rape Prevention and Punishment Act of 1996, which imposed 20-year penalties for slipping someone a sex-inducing mickey.

In 1998, the case of the "Rohypnol Romeos," identical twin brothers in Los Angeles, brought roofies back to the front pages. The twins were convicted in connection with roofie rapes of more than a dozen women.

The bad press reduced the availability of roofies, and GHB ascended in popularity at raves and clubs. Drew Luster apparently was on the ground floor of the trend.

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