Volume 42, Issue 3 (May 1997)
Isotopic Analysis of 13C as a Tool for Comparison and Origin Assignment of Seized Heroin Samples
The applicability of isotopic analysis of 13C for forensic purposes has been discussed in the case of heroin. The obtained results showed first that morphine acetylation induces an isotopic fractionation, so that the 13C enrichment of diacetylmorphine depends on both geographical origin of the sample and source of acetic anhydride used by the drug trafficker. That measurement can then be of great interest in the determination of common-batch samples (tactical intelligence purpose). Second, diacetylmorphine deacetylation has also been studied and it appeared that this deacetylation allows to relieve the enrichment from the acetylation-induced part. Therefore, measuring morphine 13C enrichment, from deacetylated heroin samples, can be useful for determining the geographical origin of the samples (strategic intelligence purpose). Moreover, measuring both diacetylmorphine and morphine 13C enrichments may help identify the source of acetic anhydride used by the drug trafficker, so that the fraudulent laboratory where the morphine samples have been acetylated.