Illicit drug powders normally contain a number of components, which will include the principal illicit drug (e.g. cocaine) and impurities related to that drug. They may also contain other drugs as adulterants and may also be diluted ('cut') with other commonplace substances (e.g. sugars). Drug powder comparisons are usually based on appearance and detailed chemical composition (which may be more or less characteristic depending on the mix of components) and are often used as evidence of drug dealing. For example if the composition of an illicit drug preparation found on one person matches that found on another person, with whom they are known to have had recent contact, then the inference is that one person could have supplied the other with those drugs.
Person found in possession of a bag of powder suspected to contain a controlled drug. A known associate of theirs is found in possession of two small wraps of what is suspected to be the same controlled drugs powder. The powders are forensically analysed and found to have similar chemical compositions. The person who possessed the bag of powder is charged with possession of a controlled drug with intent to supply. The other person is charged with possession of a controlled drug. Police may also apply for forfeiture of the suspected dealers assets under The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).
Our forensic scientists have years of experience carrying out comparisons on illicit drug preparations and interpreting the results. They also have up to date knowledge of how commonplace or otherwise those preparations might be, based on their chemical compositions.