Study Finds Fingerprints Carry Evidence of Cocaine Use

 Posted on July 08, 2015 in Drug Crimes

fingerprints, cocaine, Illinois Criminal Defense AttorneyResearchers have found a new method determining whether an individual has used cocaine, and it does not require the collection of bodily fluids. A team of scientists from the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom have discovered that a single fingerprint may be enough to verify the presence of cocaine in a person’s system. In addition to being less invasive than blood or urine tests, a fingerprint analysis may also increase reliability as the identifying characteristics associated with fingerprints are not easily faked or compromised.

The testing process involves the collection of a single fingerprint and analysis utilizing a technology known as mass spectrometry. Mass spectrometry is used to detect chemical components in the residue left by a fingerprint and is able to isolate traces of metabolized cocaine. The presence of two compounds in particular, benzoylecgonine and methylecgonine, verify that an individual has ingested and metabolized cocaine rather than having just touched it.

Lead researcher Dr. Melanie Bailey pointed to several advantages that such a test offers over more traditional processes. “A fingerprint is a very quick way of depositing a sample, compared with other collection regimes,” she said. A print can be tested in minutes, without requiring specific preparation of the sample, and the uniqueness of fingerprints make identification much more secure. “It’s also very difficult to falsify and could help with the sample’s chain of custody,” Dr. Bailey observed.

To date, fingerprint tests for cocaine have only been able to detect the presence of the drug and have not yet attempted to take quantitative measurements. The team hopes to proceed with the development of new technology that can measure the amount and, eventually, the source of cocaine ingested by a user.

Portable and less expensive mass spectrometry equipment must also be developed before testing can be conducted at police stations or at the site of an arrest. “We are only bound by the size of the current technology,” said Dr. Bailey. She predicts that portable spectrometers will be available in the near future, possibly within the next decade, allowing for accurate and less-invasive drug testing fairly soon.

If you have been arrested and charged for cocaine possession or any other drug crime, you deserve representation from an attorney who will fight hard to protect your rights. Contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer today to schedule a free consultation.

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