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DNA Profiling from Heroin Street Dose Packages

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A large amount of heroin street doses are seized and examined for drug content by the Israel police. These are generally wrapped in heat-sealed plastic. Occasionally it is possible to visualize latent fingerprints on the plastic wrap itself, but the small size of the plastic item and the sealing process makes the success rate very low. In this study, the possibility of extracting and profiling DNA from the burnt edge of the plastic wrap was investigated. The idea was based on the assumption that epithelial cells might be trapped during the sealing process. The results show that there are sufficient quantities of DNA deposited at the “amorphic” burnt edges of sealed street doses for DNA profiling to be carried out. A controlled experiment using a known donor was performed. This subject carried out sealing of “street drug” packages and consequent DNA extractions were performed to show that known DNA profiles could be recovered from such packages, as a result of handling by the “packer.”“Square-like” burnt edges did not yield DNA profiles, probably because of differences in the sealing process. It was also shown that DNA could be recovered from the plastic wrap itself and not only from the amorphic burnt edges. As heroin dealers and drug users are often involved in other crimes and run-ins with the law, the effective extraction and addition of their DNA profiles from such items of evidence to the newly established DNA database in Israel provides new avenues in the continued fight against crime and drug traffickers.
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Keywords: DNA typing; fingerprint; forensic science; heroin; plastic; street doses

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: DNA Database Laboratory, Division of Identification and Forensic Science (DIFS), Israel Police, National HQ, Jerusalem 91906, Israel. 2: Latent Fingerprint Laboratory, Division of Identification and Forensic Science (DIFS), Israel Police, National HQ, Jerusalem 91906, Israel.

Publication date: 01 March 2007

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