Moscow Sees Resurgence of 'Mickey Finn'

A liquid form of the drug is usually administered, which does not alter the taste or color of the drink it is mixed into. Experts say the beverage does not have to contain alcohol — cases of doctoring tea and coffee have taken place as well.

Difficult to Police

But law enforcement officials admit it's difficult to catch clonidine criminals as the cases tend to be isolated and often slip proper attention by Moscow's overworked police force.

In the absence of serious policing, some owners and managers of bars and restaurants say they have stepped up their security measures. These sometimes include undercover security personnel posing as patrons.

But the sheer mobility of clonidine-wielders makes apprehension of such criminals an uphill task, according to local police sources.

Perpetrators are known to constantly change areas of prey, moving not only from bar to bar, but also from city to city, and even from country to country.

Scandinavian patrons of cheap watering-holes in the Baltic States such as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have been falling victim to Mickey Finns for decades.

Moscow police officials believe the criminals tend to have universal operational rules: They usually work alone or in closely knit groups and rarely mix with other sections of the city's underworld.

And Moscow police, like most embassies, have very simple advice to give: stay vigilant.

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