Headspace-Gas Chromatographic-Mass Spectrometric Analysis of South American Commercial Solvents and their Use in the Illicit Conversion of Cocaine Base to Cocaine Hydrochloride*

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Abstract

This study presents data that establish the makeup of solvents utilized in illicit cocaine hydrochloride production, as determined via the identification of the occluded solvents in the crystal matrix of the final product. The occluded solvent ratios can differ dramatically from the ratios of the original processing solvents. Additionally, the presented data suggest the diversion of commercial solvents to illicit cocaine hydrochloride laboratories. Thirty-five commercial solvents were obtained from five chemical manufacturing companies in South America. Each solvent was qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed using static headspace-gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (HS-GC-MS). After obtaining the chemical profile for each commercial solvent, solvents and/or solvent mixtures were prepared to be comparable in composition to several of the commercial products. Over 90 individual batches of cocaine hydrochloride were prepared from cocaine base using these solvents or solvent mixtures, which match those most commonly employed in clandestine laboratories. Additionally, a number of unique manufacturing by-products produced from processing solvents were identified, and their significance is discussed.

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