Bar-goers poisoned by champagne spiked with ecstasy: German police

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A group of people frequenting a bar in Bavaria, Germany, were poisoned over the weekend by tainted champagne containing ecstasy, authorities say. Several people were hospitalized after drinking the spiked concoction, while one person has since died. Police have reportedly ruled out the possibility that the group was deliberately targeted, but no motive has yet been identified and no suspects have been named.

According to a statement published On Sunday by Bavarian police, the poisoning occurred late Saturday evening at a bar in the town of Weiden in der Oberpfalz, involving patrons aged between 33 and 52. By the time police and emergency services arrived at the scene, several people had collapsed to the ground, and eight were eventually sent to various hospitals. One of these individuals, a 52-year-old man, is said to have died overnight, but the others are no longer in serious danger.

All concerned drank from the same bottle of champagne, the police noted. And when authorities ran tests on the bottle, they found “a significant concentration” of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), more commonly known as ecstasy or molly. But they don’t seem to know how or why the drugs got there. Media reports have indicated that the bottle was brought to the group by the bar manager himself and opened at the table, while one of the individuals claimed to have been drinking of her was the owner of the property. Police have ruled out a “targeted attack” by the poisoned people, but are treating the man’s death as a negligent homicide.

There appears to be no information available on the symptoms experienced by those who drank the fortified champagne. That said, MDMA is a well-known synthetic drug with both hallucinogenic and stimulating properties. Users generally report feeling increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and a distorted perception of time and space. But it’s also been known to cause less pleasant symptoms like nausea, clenching of the teeth, chills, blurred vision, and sweating.

Authorities have ordered an autopsy of the man who died in the poisoning, but they currently assume that the cause is drug-related. People do rarely die of MDMA use, although many cases tend to involve more than one drug taken at the same time. And here some evidence that even a moderate dose can cause fatal overheating under the right conditions, such as taking in an already hot environment.

James R. Rhodes