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Identification of N-ethyl-α-ethylphenethylamine in crystalline powder seized for suspected drug trafficking: a research chemical or a new designer drug?

Abstract

A crystalline powder was found in an unclaimed lost article shipped from Vietnam to South Korea, and it was seized by narcotics agents as an item of suspicious trade. The chemical was suspected to be methamphetamine crystals, and was sent to the National Forensic Service for forensic identification. Elucidation of the chemical structure was carried out using gas chromatography–electron impact ionization–mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography–time-of-flight–mass spectrometry, and 1D and 2D nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The compound was identified as N-ethyl-α-ethylphenethylamine. Although the narcotic effect of this compound remains unverified, it may be classified as a phenethylamine-based designer drug on the basis of its structure. It appeared that the recipient of this article sought to abuse this chemical in the same way as amphetamines. There is a possibility that this chemical will be widely abused for recreational use in the near future.

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Acknowledgments

This study was supported by funding from the National R&D Program of the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology (2012-0009836) and the National Forensic Service of Korea.

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Correspondence to Jaesin Lee.

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This article is for the special issue TIAFT2012 edited by Osamu Suzuki.

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Lee, J., Choe, S., Choi, H. et al. Identification of N-ethyl-α-ethylphenethylamine in crystalline powder seized for suspected drug trafficking: a research chemical or a new designer drug?. Forensic Toxicol 31, 54–58 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11419-012-0158-1

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Keywords

  • N-Ethyl-α-ethylphenethylamine
  • Drug trafficking
  • Structural elucidation
  • GC–EI–MS
  • LC–TOF–MS
  • NMR