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Forensic Sci Int. 2015 Feb;247:48-53. doi: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2014.11.028. Epub 2014 Dec 9.

Analysis of cocaine and its adulterants in drugs for international trafficking seized by the Brazilian Federal Police.

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Forensic Department, Brazilian Federal Police, Regional Superintendence in Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil. Electronic address:
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, SP, Brazil.


Here, gas chromatography with nitrogen phosphorous detector (GC-NPD) method was developed and validated for the quantification of cocaine and adulterants (caffeine, 4-dimethylaminoantipyrine, levamisole, lidocaine and phenacetin) in illicit samples. The method was based on direct dilution of samples in methanol, sonication for 5 min and centrifugation. After appropriate dilution, an aliquot was injected into GC-MS in order to identify the active compounds and into GC-NPD for the analytes quantification. Bupivacaine was used as an internal standard. The method showed to be precise, accurate and linear over a range of 0.5-100% (weight/weight percentages) for all analytes, except phenacetin which showed a linear range between 2% and 100%. The method was successfully applied to 54 samples seized by the Brazilian Federal Police in the International Airport of Sao Paulo and mailing services during the year 2011. All the samples were associated with international trafficking and were apprehended while leaving the country. The purity of cocaine ranged from 16.5% to 91.4%. Cocaine was the only detected active compound in 29.6% of total samples. Among the identified cutting agents, levamisole was the most abundant (55.6% of the total samples) and relative concentrations (weight/weight percentages) ranged from 0.7% to 23%. Lidocaine, caffeine, phenacetin and 4-dimethylaminoantipyrine were also identified in these samples in minor concentrations. In contrast with what we initially hypothesized, drugs intended to international trafficking did not present high cocaine purity and most of the samples were laced with adulterants before leaving Brazil.


Adulterants; Cocaine; GC–NPD; Levamisole; Lidocaine

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