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The forensic analysis of illicit Methaqualone-containing preparations by gas chromatography mass spectrometry

by Grove, Alida Amelia.

Abstract (Summary)
Currently 350 (and steadily increasing) different methaqualone tablet formulations have been received, tested and classed by the Chemistry Unit of the South African Police Service Forensic Science Laboratory (SAPS FSL). In order to help combat the criminal organisations targeting the local market, a National Forensic Drug Intelligence Database (NFDID), also referred to as the Logo Index, was established in March 1999 by the SAPS FSL. Colour photographs, accompanied by the dimensions and chemical identity of the active constituents of methaqualone tablet formulations, amphetamines and lysergic acid diethylamine (LSD) blotter papers are included in this database. The identity of inactive constituents, abundance of active and inactive constituents, precursor or processing chemicals, as well as by-products produced during the synthesis or production of illicit drug samples, are not yet included in the NFDID. In court in South Africa the Forensic drug analyst is increasingly asked to state whether illicit preparations from different seizures might be originating from the same manufacturer. This creates the need for not only routinely analyzing seized tablets for the purpose of identifying the active ingredients, but also for quantifying the active ingredients, and identifying the precursors and contaminants which might be present. The availability of this data increases the possibility of tracing the origin of different tablets. Establishing whether the performance characteristics of a specific method meet the requirements for the intended analytical applications of the analytical method has thus become essential. This validation process also establishes the limitations of the method, as well as the effects of specified interferences on the performance of the method. The project has two main aims. The first will be to validate the quantitative determination method of methaqualone in illicit preparations by using gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC/MS). The same method will be validated in order to identify other active substances in the illicit preparations, for example diazepam and diphenhydramine. Establishing the presence of inactive constituents, the abundance of active and inactive constituents, precursors or processing chemicals and possible by-products produced during the synthesis or production of these illicit drug samples would be included in the validation. The second main aim is to apply this validated method to determine the presence or absence of certain key compounds in preparations, in order to enable the analytical University of Pretoria etd, Grové A A (2006) chemist to conclude that “real life” illicit preparations received at this laboratory for analysis are the same. The data resulting from this experiment will then be reviewed in order to establish whether the preparations analysed could be traced back to the same manufacturer, or at least the same method of manufacture. This data will also be compared to literature references concerning chemical fingerprinting of other illicitly manufactured drugs such as heroin and the amphetamines. Should this validated method be deemed competent to achieve these aims, it would be used routinely by the Chemistry Unit of the SAPS FSL in order to generate data for the purpose of expanding the existing NFDID. This will hopefully enable the police to link different seizures, or to link a certain seizure with an illicit manufacturer, suspected to be involved with a certain case. University of Pretoria etd, Grové A A (2006)
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:

School:University of Pretoria/Universiteit van Pretoria

School Location:South Africa

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:methaqualone abuse chemistry forensic gas chromatography mass spectrometry

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