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Dancing on Coke: Smuggling Cocaine Dispersed in Polyvinyl Alcohol

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Abstract:  Recent trends suggest that cocaine smugglers have become more and more inventive to avoid seizures of large amounts of cocaine transported between countries. We report a case of a mail parcel containing a dance pad which was seized at the Customs Department of Brussels Airport, Belgium. After investigation, the inside of the dance pad was found to contain a thick polymer, which tested positive for cocaine. Analysis was performed using a routine colorimetric swipe test, gas chromatography coupled with mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The polymer was identified as polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) and contained 18% cocaine, corresponding to a street value of € 20,000. Laboratory experiments showed that cocaine could be easily extracted from the PVA matrix. This case report reveals a new smuggling technique for the transportation of large amounts of cocaine from one country to another.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Toxicological Centre, University of Antwerp, Universiteitsplein 1, 2610 Antwerp, Belgium 2: Laboratory of Toxicology, Ghent University, Harelbekestraat 72, 9000 Gent, Belgium 3: Laboratory for Medicinal Chemistry, Ghent University, Harelbekestraat 72, 9000 Gent, Belgium 4: Toxicology Laboratory, ZNA Stuivenberg, Lange Beeldekenstraat 267, 2060 Antwerp, Belgium

Publication date: January 1, 2012

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