Analyzing fentanyl and fentanyl analogues by ion mobility spectrometry
Illegal drugs are among the multitude of goods examined by customs officers at the border. With the emergence of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, the goal of field detection of drugs becomes two-fold: to interdict illegal drug movement and to assist in the protection of the health and safety of frontline officers. This work reports a study of nine fentanyl-related substances (acetylfentanyl, benzoylfentanyl, beta-hydroxythiofentanyl, butyrylfentanyl, carfentanil, despropionylfentanyl, fentanyl, furanylfentanyl and parafluoroisobutyrylfentanyl) using a commercial off-the-shelf ion mobility spectrometer (COTS IMS) and the results from analyzing 84 seized samples containing fentanyl-related substances. The results showed that the COTS IMS was capable of detecting the presence of programmed fentanyl-related substances. Unprogrammed fentanyl-related substances were detected, however no alarm was generated and the information was accessible via the advanced user mode only. The COTS IMS was not able to distinguish between several pairs of substances with similar reduced mobility values. During this study, six fentanyl analogues were intercepted by our laboratory for the first time (2-isopropylfuranylfentanyl, 2-methoxyfuranylfentanyl, 2-methfuranylfentanyl, 4-chlorofuranylfentanyl, cyclopropylfentanyl and methoxyacetylfentanyl) and their reduced mobility values are presented herein.
KeywordsIMS Field detection Fentanyl Fentanyl analogues Synthetic opioids
The authors would like to thank the Contraband Analysis Section of the Canada Border Services Agency for conducting laboratory analyses of the seized samples used in this study.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
- 1.Controlled Drugs and Substances Act S.C. 1996, c. 19, last amended on October 17, 2018. http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/acts/C-38.8/index.html Accessed on December 19, 2018
- 3.Canadian Community Epidemiology Network on Drug Use. Deaths Involving Fentanyl in Canada, 2009-2014 (2015) Canadian Centre on substance abuse. OttawaGoogle Scholar
- 4.Overdose Death Rates (2018) National Institute of Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates. Accessed December 19, 2018
- 5.Standing Committee of Health. Meeting No. 22, October 4, 2016. http://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/HESA/meeting-22/evidence. Accessed on December 19, 2018
- 6.World Drug Report 2018. United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. https://www.unodc.org/wdr2018/. Accessed on December 19, 2018
- 7.Canada Border Services Agency. CBSA seizures for fiscal year 2017-2018. https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/security-securite/seizure-saisie-eng.html. Accessed on December 19 2018
- 8.U.S. Customs and Border Protection. CBP Enforcement Statistics FY2018 https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/stats/cbp-enforcement-statistics. Accessed on September 05, 2018
- 9.European Drug Report, Trends and Developments. European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction. 2017 http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/system/files/publications/4541/TDAT17001ENN.pdf. Accessed on September 05, 2018
- 10.Canada at a Glance 2017. Statistics Canada. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/12-581-x/2017000/pop-eng.htm Accessed on December 19, 2018
- 11.U.S. and the World Population Clock. United States Census Bureau. https://www.census.gov/popclock/. Accessed on September 05, 2018
- 12.Eurostat Newsrelease 110/2017. Eurostat Press Office. 10 July 2017. https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/8102195/3-10072017-AP-EN.pdf. Accessed on September 05, 2018
- 13.Eiceman GA, Karpas Z, Hill HH (2014) Ion mobility spectrometry, Third edn. Taylor & Francis, FloridaGoogle Scholar
- 16.Binette M-J, Pilon P (2013) Microgram 10:8–11Google Scholar