SOFT - TIAFT 1998 Scientific Session 8 Friday October 9, 1998
Click Picture Peter X. Iten and Martin Schmid

Institute of Legal Medicine, University of Zurich, Winterthurerstr. 190, CH-8057 Zurich

On the night of October 28 to 29, 1996 about 30 cocaine users were admitted to hospitals in the city of Zurich or treated by physicians. All showed the same symptoms of a severe drug intoxication. This kind of intoxication was never seen before, and the symptoms lasted up to 24 or even 48 hours.

The drug scene immediately turned crazy, the drug users were totally confused and the intoxicated persons suffered from mortal terror. During the following days more intoxications were registered, but after a few days no further cases were noted.

It was highly interesting - especially from the point of view of drug politics - to note that the behavior of drug addicts changed immediately. Drug users became "colleagues" of the police, were willing to bring the drugs to the police station, suddenly knew the names of the dealers, the prices, and the locations where the deals took place. Also quite new was the spontaneous readiness to file a declaration with the police. The information of the drug users enabled the police to arrest the responsable drug dealers within a few days.

Six different whitish powders were submitted to our laboratory. The analyses revealed that five powders contained atropine (1 - 11 %, mean 7 %), cocaine (41 - 61 %, mean 49 %), procaine (6 - 14 %, mean 9 %), and dimethylterephthalate (not quantified). One powder contained cocaine only (57 %).

At first, GC/MS analysis was not able to find atropine. Only cocaine, procaine and dimethylterephthalate were identified. But in the two dimensional HPTLC four spots were detected. With this method the fourth compound could be identified as atropine. Only when looking closer at the cocaine peak in the GC/MS run atropine was found, because atropine was hidden under the cocaine peak when using our standard DB-5ms column. The quantitations were made on a GC-NPD with DB-17 column. This method was able to separate all three basic substances.

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