State health officials in Rhode Island have revealed an incident at a state lab that showed cross-contamination of test samples. This has called into question at least 52 drug cases involving cocaine. The state’s Department of Health held a quality assurance test at its Forensic Drug Chemistry Lab, where scientists were tested to determine how accurately they were testing different types of drug samples. A lab scientist reported trace amounts of cocaine that shouldn’t have been present, and it was determined that the cocaine carried over from a previous sample. Despite the issue arising during an analysis of a quality assurance test case, not in relation to an actual criminal case, the Health Department notified the Rhode Island Attorney General’s Office. The scientist involved worked on around 1,313 law enforcement cases between June 2021 and November 2022. Of those cases, 549 were ruled out because they didn’t involve cocaine. Another 436 were discounted because they involved such high volumes of cocaine that cross-contamination wasn’t likely. For 52 cases, where lower levels of cocaine were present, health officials said they deserve closer scrutiny because of the cross-contamination issue. If evidence on these cases remains and can be retrieved from law enforcement agencies for re-testing, the Health Department will do re-testing immediately. Another 263 cases involving less than 10 grams of controlled substances are also still under review. Health officials did not make a final determination about how the cross-contamination happened, although they said “potential factors” could be tied to the way cocaine transmits through the air or the sensitivity of their equipment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *