The determination of dyes present in illicit pills is shown to be useful and easy-to-get information in strategic and tactical drug intelligence. An analytical strategy including solid-phase extraction (SPE) thin-layer chromatography (TLC) and capillary zone electrophoresis equipped with a diode array detector (CZE-DAD) was developed to identify and quantify 14 hydrosoluble, acidic, synthetic food dyes allowed in the European Community. Indeed, these may be the most susceptible dyes to be found in illicit pills through their availability and easiness of use. The results show (1) that this analytical method is well adapted to small samples such as illicit pills, (2) that most dyes actually found belong to hydrosoluble, acidic, synthetic food dyes allowed in the European Community, and (3) that this evidence turns out to be important in drug intelligence and may be assessed into a Bayesian framework.
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