Ten members of a pro-euthanasia association were taken into police custody Tuesday in France as part of an investigation into trafficking in Pentobarbital, a powerful anesthetic sometimes used for assisted suicide, corroborating sources said , confirming information from
Read also: Barbiturate trafficking at the heart of a police operation
In total, thirteen members of the Ultime Liberté association were targeted by this wave of arrests, according to sources familiar with the matter.
Searches were still underway at midday, these sources said.
Ultime Liberté is an "
international association for the legalization of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia
" created in 2009, according to its website.
Based in Chaumont (Haute-Marne) with branches spread over French territory, the association claims nearly 3,000 members.
the suspects are between 60 and 80 years old and they have exercised intellectual and medical professions: teacher, physiotherapist, psychologists
In October 2019, 130 bottles had been seized during more than a hundred searches carried out in France.
The analyzes revealed that these vials contained Pentobarbital, a barbiturate banned in France since 1996 for human medicine.
Made by a Danish laboratory which holds an exclusive production license in the United States, it is used by vets to euthanize animals but is sometimes hijacked by people wishing to end their own life.
A preliminary investigation was opened on July 26, 2019 by the Paris prosecutor's office after the transmission to the Central Office for the Fight against Attacks on the Environment and Public Health (Oclaesp) by the American authorities of a list of recipients. French packages that may contain this powerful anesthetic, declared to customs as cosmetic.
The searches carried out by the gendarmes of Oclaesp, supported by the SCRC (central service of criminal intelligence), had made it possible to locate 125 French buyers.
A judicial investigation was also opened on June 18, 2020 by the public health pole of the Paris prosecutor's office for "
import, possession, acquisition, in particular on a telecommunications network, and illicit use of substances classified as psychotropic
The counts of “
importing dangerous goods for public health, the illegal exercise of the profession of pharmacist and propaganda or complicity in propaganda in favor of products allowing suicide
” are also targeted.
Pentobarbital is used in Belgium and Switzerland, which, unlike France, have legalized euthanasia and assisted suicide, respectively.
It is also sometimes used for injections of death row inmates in the United States.