Journal Published Online: 01 January 2000
Volume 45, Issue 1

Tracing the Source of Illicit Drugs Through Plastic Packaging—A Database



Common plastic drug packaging material available in Australia and in Asia was analyzed using a standard protocol including optical examination, UV-visible and Fourier transform infrared spectrometry. The aims were to determine whether there are significant differences between different sources, to establish the evidential value of these examinations, and to build a database of common packaging material.

Visual examination was the most effective means for discriminating samples. Thickness and weight measurements provided useful information. Visualization of machining marks using crossed polarized light was found to be useful in the comparison process. UV-visible spectrophotometry has some value for distinguishing samples. Fourier transform infrared analysis was a good technique for determination of the polymer composition of the packaging. Significant differences were observed between Australian and overseas samples.

The “Australian Database of Drug Packaging Materials” was created to systematically collate all of the collected data for application on personal computers. It is concluded that the properties of plastic packaging materials can be excellent indicators for identifying the specific brand or origin of the packaging.

Author Information

Roux, C
Materials and Forensic Science, University of Technology, Sydney, Broadway, NSW, Australia
Bull, S
Materials and Forensic Science, University of Technology, Sydney, Broadway, NSW, Australia
Goulding, J
Forensic Services, Australian Federal Police, Sydney, South NSW, Australia
Lennard, C
Forensic Services, Australian Federal Police, Canberra, ACT, Australia
Pages: 16
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Stock #: JFS14646J
ISSN: 0022-1198
DOI: 10.1520/JFS14646J