Collection and analysis of fire debris evidence to detect methamphetamine, pseudoephedrine, and ignitable liquids in fire scenes at suspected clandestine laboratories

Matthew K. Green, Raymond J. Kuk, Jarrad Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The “One Pot” methamphetamine production method uses highly reactive and flammable materials. Clandestine laboratories created using this method may lead to subsequent fires putting innocent bystanders at risk. In some jurisdictions, fires resulting from methamphetamine production may lead to first degree arson charges, which have much higher penalties than drug production charges. The ability to detect methamphetamine and precursors in fire debris provides necessary evidence to charge first degree arson. In this study, One Pot methamphetamine reactions were used to create mock residential fires. Debris samples were analyzed for ignitable liquids using passive headspace concentration and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry was then used to detect methamphetamine and pseudoephedrine, the methamphetamine precursor, in the fire debris. Additionally, samples were provided to local law enforcement laboratories for standard drug analysis. This work demonstrates the positive identification of both ignitable liquids and the drugs/precursors from fires resulting from clandestine methamphetamine production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-88
Number of pages7
JournalForensic Chemistry
Volume4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

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methamphetamine
Pseudoephedrine
Methamphetamine
debris
Debris
Fires
drug
Liquids
liquids
Firesetting Behavior
evidence
local law
production method
drugs
law enforcement
Mass spectrometry
jurisdiction
penalty
Flammable materials
mass spectroscopy

Cite this

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abstract = "The “One Pot” methamphetamine production method uses highly reactive and flammable materials. Clandestine laboratories created using this method may lead to subsequent fires putting innocent bystanders at risk. In some jurisdictions, fires resulting from methamphetamine production may lead to first degree arson charges, which have much higher penalties than drug production charges. The ability to detect methamphetamine and precursors in fire debris provides necessary evidence to charge first degree arson. In this study, One Pot methamphetamine reactions were used to create mock residential fires. Debris samples were analyzed for ignitable liquids using passive headspace concentration and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry was then used to detect methamphetamine and pseudoephedrine, the methamphetamine precursor, in the fire debris. Additionally, samples were provided to local law enforcement laboratories for standard drug analysis. This work demonstrates the positive identification of both ignitable liquids and the drugs/precursors from fires resulting from clandestine methamphetamine production.",
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