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Investigation of the Use of Deuterium and Oxygen in Illicit Fentanyl Analysis

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2020
18 pages

This project developed a new traditional thermo-chemical elemental analysis isotope ratio mass spectrometry (TCEA/IRMS) method to measure deuterium and oxygen isotope ratios present in illicit fentanyl and its immediate precursor, 4-ANPP.


This new method was used to assess the need for expanded isotope analyses by the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA's) Fentanyl Signature Profiling Program (FSPP) in order to improve the program's capability in linking illicit fentanyl exhibits based on scientific data. Although the TCEA/IRMS method may not be helpful in making linkages for fentanyl, it may be useful in cargentanil. Currently, FSPP typically only measures delta 13C in carfentanil due to its low concentrations in illicit samples. Adding additional isotope capabilities will improve the FSPP's ability to examine carfentanil exhibits for linkages to seizures across the United States. TCEA/IRMS is ideal for this circumstance due to the need for the small bulk sample required. 7 tables and 2 figures

Date Published: April 1, 2020