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Clandestine Methamphetamine Labs: Rapid Impurity Profiling by AccuTOF-DART™


Methamphetamine is a Schedule II Controlled Substance that is illegally manufactured in clandestine labs. There are several common synthetic pathways in use. For this study, methamphetamine was synthesized from phenyl-2-propanone by the (1) Leukart synthesis or (2) Reductive Amination, or from ephedrine or pseudoephedrine by the (3) Nagai, (4) Birch, and (5) Edme syntheses. Each of these reaction sequences resulted in unique impurity profiles1-3 that can be used by law enforcement to track the activities of clan labs, distribution networks, and trafficking patterns. The AccuTOF-DART was used to examine the starting materials, reaction mixtures, and final products from each reaction scheme.


A JEOL AccuTOF-DART mass spectrometer was used for all measurements. Samples were deposited on the sealed end of melting point tubes and measured in positive-ion mode with helium DART gas and a gas heater setting of 350°C. Polyethylene glycol (average MW 600) was used as a reference standard for exact mass measurements.

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