• forensic science;
  • forensic chemistry;
  • cocaine detection;
  • isotope ratio mass spectrometry;
  • gas chromatography–isotope ratio mass spectrometry;
  • gas chromatography–mass spectrometry

Abstract:  In this study, δ13C values of six cocaine samples were identified and classified using a single quadrupole mass spectrometer and an isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) as simultaneous gas chromatography detectors. Our instrument modification is simple to use and is useful (i) when the sample is of limited size or can only be injected once, (ii) to help identify peaks in a complicated IRMS chromatogram, and (iii) to help differentiate very simple systems when impurity profiling is not possible. The EI-MS confirmed the identity of cocaine in each sample. The IRMS data distinguished 12 of the 15 possible pair-wise comparisons at the 95% CL. Three samples could not be differentiated by their δ13C ratios for cocaine. ANOVA demonstrated that the measurement variance was consistently larger than the sample variance. As the δ13C values clearly show, this technique enables the exclusion of a potential common source even when two samples have otherwise identical chemical and physical properties.