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The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines Heroin as a highly addictive and rapidly acting opiate, a drug that is derived from opium and produced from morphine, which is a principal component of opium. Opium is a naturally occurring substance that is extracted from the seed pod of the opium poppy (1)
Profiling in context to seized Drugs can be defined as the extraction and storage of physical or chemical profile of drugs seized in order to attain clues on the manufacture and distribution processes that can be used in the implementation of policies to strengthen law enforcement agencies legislation against the drugs that are used illegally (2) (3).
In reference to seized Heroin profiling can be of two types, impurity and chemical. Impurity profiling includes numerous analyses that are intended to produce a detailed picture of a drug sample, typically in the form of a chromatographic data. The data that is generated by the impurity profile normally leads to a chemical profile which result in the identification of the most important constituents in the sample. Impurity profiling is also aimed to target the slight trace constituents in the sample (4). Chemical profiling is the chemical link between samples. Chemical profiling is also understood to be the profile that are co-extracted along with its manufacturing impurities which came from the (impurity profile), along with the cutting agents. At the international level, the samples may represent products from different manufacturers brought together for final processing and/or distribution as a single batch (2).
The information obtained from the profiling of seized heroin is of great importance and investigative value to Police organisations. It provides the police with scientific information which in turn will help to gather intelligence in the execution of operational work and to allow the different organisations to establish a suitable working relation and close collaboration among them. Law enforcement also depends on Impurity profiling which will enable them to answer a number of questions ranging from the relations and use between dealers, information on where the drugs are source from along with the networks responsible for the distribution. It also helps the police to track and obtained trafficking routes used by the suppliers and manufactures. It might also provide corroborating evidence in cases where drugs manufactured illegally need to be differentiated from those diverted from legal sources (4).
Profiling of drugs provides the Police with chemical and physical statistics that might assist in unsettling and identifying institutions that are involved in the trafficking and manufacturing of drugs. Profiling helps the police in the classification of material confiscated from different groups of linked samples. When the linkage among users and dealers may be established it is of utmost value to the police, as a result the pattern of drug distribution, and networks may be constructed along with its source. (3)
On the completion of chemical analysis the result received is equated to the historical data which permits the police authorities to find out or be familiar with the geographic site of the drug cultivation. Links among different seizures can be established when the information obtained from the data analysis are linked with the physical evidence. Profiling allows the police to make comparisons of evidence on a case to case basis which makes it easy to carry out a search in an organise memory. In turn this will help to provide the police with a possibility of locating previous unsuspected connection among samples that are seized in different cases and its crucial justification for effecting and sustaining a drug profile database. It also provides a strong form of intelligence that concentrate on finding similarities among cases already in the memory of the database and new cases. (4) (3).
Evidence produce from the profiling of drugs are very useful to Police organisations. It provides and assists the police in answering a number of queries; -''does the drug user and dealer have any links-, are the samples that are related provides any valuable information linking the local, regional and international distribution and supply networks? Other questions answered are, what chemicals are used in the manufacturing of the drugs, - What is the clandestine method of drug production, - and which specific chemicals are employed in the manufacturing process? (5) (4)
The best analytical methodology for the characterisation of drug mainly relies on the type of sample whether it is a liquid, powder or natural materials (e.g.) opium or heroin products. In the analysis of drugs visual examination is the easiest and simplest investigation carried out on the physical characteristic of the sample. In that case the texture, colour or the general appearance of the sample can be observed (4).
The analytical techniques that can be used In the profiling of the seized Heroin are, Gas chromatography (GC), liquid chromatography (LC), thin layer chromatography (TLC), High performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), Ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectroscopy, and capillary Gas chromatography -flame ionization detector (GC-FID) (6) (7).
Gas chromatography (GC) is one of the most frequent analytical tools used in impurity profiling, which can also result in the hydrolysis of heroin. When a sample of heroin is injected in the absence of derivatization stage, it will almost constantly result in the manufacturing of some measure. In GC the compound is require to be thermally stable, volatile, and exhibit good chromatographic qualities. It also provides a means of separating the components of a complex mixture but the technique can definitively identify any component (6) (8)
In GC analysis, the system can be coupled to a mass spectrometer and a mass fragmentation pattern produced for each compound, which can be used to identify the compound together with the chromatographic data. GC-FID is often used in drug analysis but increasingly the GC-MS is routinely used. In this case the GC is interfaced with a mass spectrometer detector (MSD). This can be either in place of a conventional detection system such as an FID or in tandem with an existing detector. When using an MSD the carrier gas is generally helium, which has a low molecular weight (8).
Liquid Chromatography (LC) is a technique used commonly to identify and quantify drugs of abuse. The technique has a number of advantages and disadvantages specific to drug analysis. Advantages: it is nondestructive and samples can be recovered if required; the analyte does not need to be volatile; the sample generally does not require pretreatment such as chemical derivatization; the analysis can be automated; and quantification can be achieved without the necessity of an internal standard the analyte needs to have properties which can be detected in a liquid stream; the sample needs to be soluble in a wide range of solvents; quantification can be slow; and large volume of solvents are used (9) (8).
High-performance liquid chromatography has probably overtaken GC in popularity for drugs determination and can provide a high degree of edibility with reduced risk of compound degradation during analysis. HPLC is suitable for screening and quantitation of most drugs and the running costs are usually modest (7). In H PLC instrument the requirements are very basic which needs a supply of pure solvent for the mobile phase, a high pressure pump and a solvent proportioning system, a column, a sample injector, detector system, manipulation data and a data station for storage (10).
Thin-layer chromatography methods provide a single system which will detect a wide range of drugs including heroin. Generally, TLC has poor sensitivity unless large volumes of sample are extracted, has low specificity, is slow and cumbersome, requires considerable time to learn the skill of interpreting the chromatograms, and cannot produce a quantitative answer. Some of these limitations have been partially overcome by the use of `high-performance' TLC (HPTLC) plates, separation on twin systems, use of more than one locating agent for one group of drugs or the application of complex locating agents which produce uorescent derivatives (9).
Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS) has also been used to study and compare trace samples of drugs. ICP-MS has emerged as a major and powerful technique in the area of analysis in the elemental stage. Its detection limit is very low and is a good method for the use of comparison and classification of heroin samples. '' The simple nature of the mass spectra of elements makes this technique a quick tool for automated qualitative, semi quantitative, and quantitative elemental analysis (8).
For the confirmation and identification of pure compounds FTIR is an exceptionally valuable technique. It is a technique that is built mainly on the identification of practical groups molecules as a result cause the groups to vibrate (either through elongating or malleable in numerous ways) when irradiated with specific wavelengths of light. These vibrations and their intensity (% transmission) are plotted against the frequency of light (cm_1) to which the sample is exposed to produce an FTIR spectrum. Portions of the FTIR spectrum are unique to the compound under test (this is called the fingerprint region). Unfortunately, because the majority of seized samples are mixtures of compounds, FTIR has limited practical use in the analysis of street samples of drugs of abuse. However, it does have the advantages of being nondestructive and not requiring derivatization (8).
Ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectroscopy UV, like FTIR, is a technique which is useful in the identification of pure drug compounds. Different compounds contain chromophores, which will absorb specific wavelengths of UV or visible light. The technique obeys the Beer-Lambert law and as such the absorption of spectra generated at given wavelengths contains the added advantage of being directly related to the concentration of the sample. Normally UV and UV-Vis spectra are recorded at high and low pH and the results of both for the sample under question compared with known standards. UV-Vis is a cheap and easy technique, which allows sample recovery and good discrimination between pure compounds without the need for derivatization. It has less application for street samples involving complex mixtures (8)
To conclude, the profiling of seized heroin is of utmost value to law enforcement authorities. Profiling in reference to heroin can be of two types, impurity and chemical, which aids law enforcement authorities with physical and chemical information necessary which can be used for intelligence gathering in order for the identification of samples or evidential ( court) purposes. A number of different analytical techniques can be used for the profiling of drugs, to include Inductively Coupled Plasma-Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS), Ultraviolet-visible (UV-Vis) spectroscopy, and capillary GC-FID. For the profiling of heroin not all analytical techniques can be used for analysis. GC and LC are widely used techniques for the analysis of heroin.