LONDON, Ohio (WOWK) – When a drug-related crime happens locally, the local law enforcement agency may call on Ohio’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation Drug Chemistry lab to process the evidence.
Evidence from 88 Ohio counties is divided among three drug chemistry labs in the state. Combined, those labs handle about 25,000 cases a year with each case involving several pieces of evidence.
Forensic scientists in that department said the job has changed significantly in the past 20 years.
“We analyze substances submitted by law enforcement agencies for the presence or absence of controlled substances,” said Forensic Scientist Lynne Strainic.
Strainic said about half of what comes through the lab is methamphetamine. Heroin and fentanyl are next in line. She said these days, they process complex variations of designer drugs.
“Mixtures that clandestine chemists are making to either one skirt local laws, state laws, federal laws or just to create new novel chemicals that might act on the nervous system in slightly a different way,” she said.
That can make the job more dangerous and more complicated.
“Mixtures are a really difficult part of what we do,” Strainic said. “You are no longer just identifying one substance anymore you are identifying five.”
They communicate what they’ve learned by analyzing the new mixtures and trends to others in the field so that they know what is going on out on the streets.
“It is the job of the forensic drug chemist to identify those substances and relay that information to the rest of the forensic drug chemistry community so that they are aware of what is coming in the future,” Strainic explained.
Those working in the lab focus on precision and accuracy in the fight to keep illegal drugs out of Ohio communities.
“It is our science only that is going to dictate someone’s future and so everything is very detailed,” she said.
To find out more about the BCI Lab click here.