Reports of Blackouts Believed Caused by 'Date Rape' Drugs Boom in Aspen

There more reported incidents of people being slipped Rohypnol at bars in Aspen.

A young man who awoke disoriented in a movie theater showing "Avatar" 10 miles from where he had been drinking with friends is one of at least 11 people from the tony ski town of Aspen, Colo., who claimed that someone surreptitiously slipped drugs into their drinks, police say.

A recent uptick in reported use of the date rape drug Rohypnol, or "roofies," is alarming and has authorities searching for an assailant they know won't be easy to find, Pitkin County Undersheriff Joe DiSalvo said today.

"We're trying to get really aggressive with this [investigation]," said DiSalvo, who is working in conjunction with the Aspen Police Department. "This will be a hard person to catch and it would be pure luck to catch him in the act."

Several young adults, both male and female, have reported going out with friends in the Aspen and Snowmass areas and suddenly blacking out, DiSalvo said. The victims have claimed that they did not believe their symptoms were from alcohol but rather from the drug, which is known to cause amnesia-like effects.

Police, who say the reports are hard to confirm because of how quickly the drug is flushed out of a victim's body and how long victims usually wait to report the crime, declined to comment on how many of the reports have included allegations of sexual assault. Authorities have also not disclosed the names of the victims.

Even so, DiSalvo said, he has been fielding reports of troubling incidents, many in which young people have been left out in the frigid Colorado temperatures for hours at a time without proper clothing.

"We had a young lady who we think got drugged and ended up in a minor car accident on Dec. 18, and when people tried to help her, she ran into the snow for three or four hours, and got frostbite on her hands," he said. "We spent a long time looking for her and we were lucky because it could have been much worse, she could have stayed out there and died from exposure."

The victim suffered such severe frostbite that her pinky fingers had turned black by the time authorities found her, DiSalvo said.

Aspen Sees Increase of Reports of Date Rape Drug Use

Another case on the same day involved a young man who DiSalvo said spent the night out in a barn and awoke with bruises, ripped clothing and a broken nose, with no memory of what had happened.

"He was found about half a mile outside of town and with no recollection of what happened, other than his friends telling him that the last time they saw him he was running away," DiSalvo said.

"This is unacceptable to us."

And the reports don't show any sign of slowing. There were three more reports this weekend of women who believe they were drugged.

While DiSalvo declined to go into detail, citing an ongoing investigation, the Aspen Daily News reported that at least one of the victims said she was sexually assaulted.

One female victim "blacked out" in an Aspen bar and woke up in a motel nearly 40 miles away, according to the newspaper.

Another victim turned up in a detox facility in a nearby town after being found at a bus stop, according to the paper, and another reported waking up in a utility closet.

Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor said the investigation is following up on leads and that there are no suspects in the alleged drugging, calling the whole ordeal a mystery.

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