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Keywords:

  • cocaine;
  • ethanol;
  • limits of detection;
  • Raman spectroscopy;
  • forensic

Recently, cocaine has been concealed by dissolving it in alcohol and then transporting it in solution through ports and airports. At the present time it is very difficult to detect cocaine in this form in these environments. However, it has been shown that Raman spectroscopy can successfully detect the presence of these drugs without removing specimens from their containers. Using two portable 785 nm instruments and a 1064 nm laboratory-based instrument, several common containers used in smuggling were analyzed with varying concentrations of cocaine in ethanol solutions. The presence of cocaine is detectable to about 6% w/v in most containers. Green glass presents a problem at 785 nm due to fluorescence but by switching to 1064 nm this can be removed. To apply this technique to real samples as met within law enforcement scenarios, cocaine was dissolved in a selection of dark and white rums including Lamb's Navy Rum, Brugal Añejo, Bacardi and Captain Morgan; cocaine was detected in all these rum solutions. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.