Development of a Law Enforcement Field Test for Identification of Opioid Surrogates Utilizing Thin Layer Chromatography


  • Claudia McDavid
  • Jeff Boles


Usage of heroin and cocaine is increasing as a surrogate to opioids. This increase has resulted in the increased use of presumptive drug test kits in the field by law enforcement; tests that simply rely on color change. This has led to an increase in the number of false positives, which has a negative effect to the public. Examples include the Scott's test for cocaine and the Marquis color test for heroin. Diluents, cutting agents and over-the-counter medications have shown to also give positive results for cocaine and heroin. This project's approach looks at stain reagents for cocaine and heroin as a presumptive use, but with a technique more common to definitive analysis, thin layer chromatography (TLC). A TLC kit would be run by law enforcement in the field. Preliminary studies have focused on silica TLC plates with cobalt (II) thiocyanate (cocaine and heroin), KMnO4 (heroin), and iodine (heroin) utilization for staining.