The use of organic and inorganic impurities found in MDMA police seizures in a drug intelligence perspective

Marie Morelato, Alison Beavis, Mark Tahtouh, Olivier Ribaux, Kenneth Kirkbride, Claude Roux

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    31 Citations (Scopus)


    Traditional forensic drug profiling involves numerous analytical techniques, and the whole process is typically costly and may be time consuming. The aim of this study was to investigate the possibility of prioritising techniques utilised at the Australian Federal Police (AFP) for the chemical profiling of 3,4-methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA). The outcome would provide the AFP with the ability to obtain more timely and valuable results that could be used in an intelligence perspective. Correlation coefficients were used to obtain a similarity degree between a population of linked samples (within seizures) and a population of unlinked samples (between different seizures) and discrimination between the two populations was ultimately achieved. The results showed that gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) was well suited as a single technique to detect links between seizures and could be used in priority for operational intelligence purposes. Furthermore, the method was applied to seizures known or suspected (through their case information) to be linked to each other to assess the chemical similarity between samples. It was found that half of the seizures previously linked by the case number were also linked by the chemical profile. This procedure was also able to highlight links between cases that were previously unsuspected and retrospectively confirmed by circumstantial information. The findings are finally discussed in the broader forensic intelligence context, with a focus on how they could be successfully incorporated into investigations and in an intelligence-led policing perspective in order to understand trafficking markets.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)32-41
    Number of pages10
    JournalScience and Justice
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


    • 3,4-Methylenedioxymethylamphetamine (MDMA)
    • Forensic intelligence
    • Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
    • Illicit drug profiling
    • Statistics


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