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Role Played by Narcotics Laboratories in the Campaign Against Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking - A View From a Developing Country

NCJ Number
Bulletin on Narcotics Volume: 36 Issue: 1 Dated: (January-March 1984) Pages: 3-13
J C G Fernandez
Date Published
15 pages
Argentina's narcotics laboratory identifies controlled drugs and their accompanying substances in suspected samples, determines the purity and the possible origin of illicit drugs, carries out drug-related research, particularly on new sources of drugs liable to abuse, and, when required by the police or courts of law, provides supportive expertise in drug trafficking cases.
The university is a particularly appropriate setting for a narcotics laboratory, especially if such a laboratory conducts complex work requiring assistance from other professional disciplines. Before new laboratory equipment is purchased, a careful study of requirements and financial resources should be made to ensure economical and optimum use of such equipment. In some situations the use of simple techniques, such as thin-layer chromatography, can be sufficient, while in others more sophisticated techniques may be required. Appropriate training of personnel is of particular importance for the effective functioning of a narcotics laboratory. The laboratory of the Department of Toxicology and Forensic Chemistry, University of Buenos Aires, provides for the training of personnel at three levels. The first level consists of basic training, which includes the use of kits for rapid identification of drugs in field conditions; the second level is provided for professional laboratory personnel and usually lasts 6 months; the third level consists of 2 years' postgraduate university training for students who are expected to carry out complex laboratory work. (Author abstract modified)