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Screening of seized cocaine samples using electrophoresis microchips with integrated contactless conductivity detection

Moreira, Roger Cardoso, Costa, Brenda M. C., Marra, Mariana C., Santana, Mario H. P., Maldaner, Adriano O., Botelho, Élvio D., Paixão, Thiago R. L. C., Richter, Eduardo Mathias, Coltro, Wendell K. T.
Electrophoresis 2018 v.39 no.17 pp. 2188-2194
cocaine, cutting agents, electrodes, electrophoresis, glass, levamisole, lidocaine, police, screening
This study describes the development of a new analytical method for the separation and detection of cocaine (COC) and its adulterants, or cutting agents, using microchip electrophoresis (ME) devices coupled with capacitively coupled contactless conductivity detection (C⁴D). All the experiments were carried out using a glass commercial ME device containing two pairs of integrated sensing electrodes. The running buffer composed of 20 mmol/L amino‐2‐(hydroxymethyl) propane‐1,3‐diol and 10 mmol/L 3,4‐dimethoxycinnamic acid provided the best separation conditions for COC and its adulterants with baseline resolution (R > 1.6), separation efficiencies ranging from (2.9 ± 0.1) to (3.2 ± 0.2) × 10⁵ plates/m, and estimated LOD values between 40 and 150 μmol/L. The quantification of COC was successfully performed in four samples seized by the Brazilian Federal Police Department and all predicted values agree with values estimated by the reference method. Some other interfering species were detected in the seized samples during the screening procedure on ME–C⁴D devices. While lidocaine was detected in sample 3, the presence of levamisole was observed in samples 2 and 4. However, their concentrations were estimated to be below the LOQ. ME–C⁴D devices have proved to be quite efficient for the identification and quantification of COC with errors lower than 10% when compared to the data obtained by a reference method. The approach herein reported offers great potential to be used for on‐site COC screening in seized samples.