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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsThis video will discuss drug profiling and how it can be used as an intelligence tool. The previous video discussed the importance of determining the identity and the quantity of a drug and how this is achieved using various tests and ultimately, GC-MS. However, not all drug analysis undertaken will relate directly to a conviction. Analysis of drugs of abuse can also be an intelligence tool, providing information to the police or investigating authority in order to direct their investigation.

Skip to 0 minutes and 42 secondsThis is referred to as drug profiling and is defined by the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes Drug Working Group as the use of methods to define the chemical and/or physical properties of a drug seizure for comparing seizures for intelligent (strategic and tactical) and evidential practices.

Skip to 1 minute and 4 secondsThe first step in drug profiling is to identify the sample. By identifying the samples and linking batches together, the aim of drug profiling would be to trace the samples back to a clandestine laboratory and identify dealer-user networks. More specifically, this can be achieved by undertaking chemical analysis of the drug. It is possible to identify how a drug was made by using route-specific markers. This would mean that each synthetic route which would provide a specific marker, regardless of what batch you are examining. As such, this can show if two batches of drugs were synthesised using the same synthetic process.

Skip to 1 minute and 47 secondsThe identification of route-specific markers, however, does not imply a common synthesis laboratory or batch of drug, just that the chemical process was the same. The precursors and the pre-precursors can also be established using chemical analysis. After the drug is synthesised, various excipients are added. These can be classified as adulterants-- adding substances of similar physical or chemical properties, but that are easier and possibly cheaper to obtain-- or diluents, used to dilute the sample. The nature of the excipients added can sometimes provide some information relating to the region or origin of the materials. In addition, the physical characteristics can be examined by looking for commonality between the packaging, logos, or the presentation of the drug.

Skip to 2 minutes and 43 secondsThe main mechanism for clandestine drug production starts with the preparation of precursor chemicals or sometimes, pre-precursor chemicals. These are moved to synthetic laboratories with precursors from the same laboratory being used in a variety of synthesis laboratories. The synthetic process in each laboratory is autonomous and may be the same or may be different. The produced illegal drug is then often moved to a mixing laboratory, where the drug is mixed with excipients or cutting agents. In drug profiling, the forensic chemists are trying to trace back through the synthesis line from final produce to precursor synthesis. And is a very challenging area because of the complexities and variations in the process.

Skip to 3 minutes and 32 secondsBy watching this video, you should now be able to describe what drug profiling is, discuss what information is compared between samples to establish if the drugs came from a common origin, discuss the issues involved when comparing drug samples.

Drug profiling

Finally, we’re going to look at drug profiling which involves the systematic analysis normally of semi-synthetic or synthetic drugs of abuse.

Drug profiling aims to extract information from the drug sample that can be used to attempt to link the drug seizure to a synthetic production method or to a potential precursor or to examine possible connections between different seizures in order to expose dealer-user networks.

These are by no means easy things to achieve and drug supply and distribution networks are often very complex. Using analytical techniques which determine synthetic impurities whether organic chemical compounds, metals and other elements or variations in the ratios of specific isotopes in compounds all contribute to drug profiling.

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This video is from the free online course:

Introduction to Forensic Science

University of Strathclyde

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