Because in recent years there has been a significant increase in the use of Raman spectroscopy for forensic analysis of drugs of abuse, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime released Guidelines on Raman Handheld Field Identification Devices for Seized Material. The organization believes that the “development of handheld Raman spectrometers has drastically impacted end-users’ ability to conduct field-based as well as in-situ analysis, allowing a rapid and non-destructive identification of unknown samples including controlled drugs, drug precursors, essential chemicals and cutting agents.”
Handheld narcotics analyzers enable officers, customs, border control, and other personnel to scan hundreds of suspected illicit substances in a single, definitive test. Even when substances are encased, officers can scan directly through the plastic or glass for most samples to minimize contamination, reduce exposure and preserve evidence. When law enforcement officials can quickly identify suspected narcotics in the field, they can help keep drugs, and drug dealers, off the streets.
In addition, these Raman instruments can analyze key drugs of abuse as well as common cutting agents, precursors and emerging threats such as fentanyl, numerous fentanyl compounds including carfentanil, common street fentanyl analogs, pharmaceutical variants (Alfentanil and Sufentanil), as well as fentanyl precursors, NPP and ANPP.
In the Guidelines document, the writer explains the principles of Raman spectroscopy, strengths and limitations of Raman technology, general operating principles (including safety), how to prevent cross contamination, how to interpret and document the scan results, and the process of validating the device. In addition, the Guidelines document contains a User Guide for the handheld narcotics analyzer.
If you want to learn more about the technology, we have created a Raman Spectroscopy Academy on our website, which provides tutorials, applications, products, and resources to teach you the basics as well as covers advanced topics.
If you want to learn more about how law officers are using the Raman handheld analyzer in the field, here are several case studies:
- Charles County Case Study: Testing for Over 250 Narcotics, Including Fentanyl in a Single Test
- Porter County Case Study: Protecting Officers in the Field
- Jacksonville Case Study: Faster Case Adjudication and Improved Efficiency of Prosecution
- Phoenix Case Study: Field-based Narcotics ID Enables Speedy Prosecution While Saving Valuable Lab Resources