Microgram Bulletin LE is a monthly newsletter published by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Office of Forensic Sciences, and presents information of interest to forensic scientists concerned with the detection and analyses of suspected controlled and/or abused substances for forensic/law enforcement purposes. The information includes primarily Intelligence Alerts and Selective Literature References, and also (but infrequently) includes Drug Scheduling Updates, Safety Alerts, Selected Intelligence Briefs, Meeting Announcements, Employment Opportunities, Journal and Textbook Collection Exchange offers, and select Training Opportunities. Explanatory details for most of the above types of submission are detailed below, and typical examples of Intelligence Alerts may be found in any recent issue of Microgram Bulletin LE.
Submissions to Microgram Bulletin LE
Submissions are accepted both from within and outside of DEA. All submissions must be in English. All submissions should, whenever possible, be submitted electronically, as straight email or as a PC-compatible Microsoft Word® attachment, to: DEA-Microgram -at- usdoj.gov. Current versions of Microsoft Word® (defined as having release dates less than 5 years old) should be utilized. If electronic (email) submission is not possible, submissions may be mailed to: Microgram Editor, Drug Enforcement Administration, Special Testing and Research Laboratory, 22624 Dulles Summit Court, Dulles, VA 20166. Mailed submissions should include both a hard-copy and an electronic version (written in Microsoft Word®) on a PC-compatible CD. Note that diskettes should be mailed in an irradiation-proof protective sleeve, and the mailing envelope should be marked: “Warning - Contains Electronic Media”. All photos and figures should also be submitted as stand-alone attachments, not embedded in the writeup.
Note that mailed submissions may be subject to lengthy handling delays beyond the control of the Office of Forensic Sciences, and electronic media sent through the mail may be destroyed en route by sanitizing procedures, despite protective measures and written warnings. For these reasons, submissions should be made electronically unless impossible. All submissions should include the following Contact Information: The Full Name and Address of Submitting Laboratory or Office, and the Full Name, Phone Number, and Preferred email address of the Submitting Individual.
The following guidelines should be followed:
Intelligence Alerts are concise synopses of the physical and chemical characterization of novel and/or interesting exhibits submitted to law enforcement laboratories involved in the detection and analyses of suspected controlled and/or abused substances for forensic/law enforcement purposes. Submissions should have some unusual aspect, such as a novel drug, an atypical formulation, or a new smuggling technique, as opposed to routine analyses (that is, that confirmed what was suspected/expected).
Important Preface: Although Microgram Bulletin LE distribution is (currently) Law Enforcement Restricted, the submitting laboratory should ensure that sensitive intelligence information is not included in submitted Alerts. It should be assumed that any/every issue of Microgram Bulletin LE will eventually be public access, whether by official action, error, improper release by a subscriber, or hacking. “Eventually” may mean six decades, six years, or six weeks. For this reason, due diligence should be exercised in preparing submissions. However, the provided information should be sufficient such that the final product is useful to law enforcement personnel and forensic scientists – Alerts with minimal detail are of little or no value to the readership, and should be avoided.
The following standard information should be included in an Alert writeup:
1) Formal name of the submitting laboratory.
2) Location of the laboratory (city and state – or if non-U.S., city and country).
3) Basic physical description of the exhibit(s): Numbers, forms, colors, dimensions, logos, odor, packaging, mass, etc. Unusual aspects, if any, should be well described. Include illustrative photo(s) if possible, as .jpg attachments of reasonable size (i.e., less than 500 kb each); photos should not be embedded in the text document, and should include a ruler or some other means of estimating scale (such as a U.S. coin).
4) Suspected identity of each exhibit (if based on field testing, whether chemical or instrumental, so state). If submitted as an unknown, so state.
5) Location of seizure (city and state – or if non-U.S., city and country). If the location was obscure, provide a more recognizable reference point (e.g., approximately XX miles northeast of major city, state).
6) If known and non-sensitive, the generic circumstances of the seizure; e.g., pursuant to a traffic stop, at a “rave,” at a parcel/mail facility, from an arriving passenger, at a storage facility, by purchase, etc. If the circumstances are “unknown” or are “sensitive,” so state in order to preclude triggering followup questions.
7) Name of the agency making the seizure.
8) Methods used for the analysis of the exhibit(s); standard acronyms are acceptable (e.g., GC/FID, GC/MS, FTIR/ATR, etc.)
9) Results of analysis, including identification of all controlled or abused substances, quantitation value(s) if determined, and major adulterants/diluents if determined. In order to avoid ambiguity, if uncommon controlled substances are identified, the description should use the full chemical name(s) of the identified substances (if desired, acronyms or street terminology (e.g., “Foxy-Methoxy", “Nexus”, or “STP”) can be included in parentheses after the full chemical name). If the controlled or abused substance(s) were not formally quantitated, a rough estimate of the loading (trace, low, moderate, or high) based on the GC, TIC, LC, IR, NMR, UV or any other appropriate technique should be provided, and the approximate ratios of controlled substances and (if determined) major adulterants should be provided. If adulterants and/or diluents were above trace level but not identified, so state in order to preclude triggering followup questions.
10) The Alert should conclude with a statement as to whether other submissions similar to the described exhibit(s) have never / rarely / occasionally / (or) commonly been received by the submitting laboratory.
Submitting laboratories are also welcome to provide a suggested title and (for unusual submissions) editorial or speculative comments; these may or may not be included in the final writeup. Edited/draft write-ups will be returned to the submitting laboratory for review and approval before incorporation into Microgram Bulletin LE.
Selected Literature References is a monthly compilation of reference citations of presumed interest to forensic chemists, derived from thousands of scientific and technical periodicals. The focus of the Selected Literature References is the detection and analysis of suspected controlled and/or abused substances for forensic/law enforcement purposes. References from clinical and toxicological journals are included only if the material is judged to be of high interest to forensic chemists (for example, contains the mass spectra of an unusual substance that is not known to be published elsewhere). Note that citations from obscure periodicals may be missed, and all subscribers are invited to submit citations of interest if they do not appear in Microgram Bulletin LE within three months of their publication. Of particular interest are articles from regional forensic science association newsletters that are unlikely to be noted by any abstracting service. Citations should include a summary sentence and the primary author’s contact information.
Safety Alerts are urgent communiqués to the readership which give notice of a specific safety issue of particular interest to forensic laboratory personnel, or to law enforcement personnel dealing with controlled and/or abused substances. They should include a concise synopsis of the incident(s), recommendations (if any), pertinent literature citations (if any are known), and a mechanism for providing feedback (if appropriate).
Meeting Announcements list upcoming meetings of presumed interest to the readership. In general, only meetings which are dedicated to forensic chemistry/forensic drug analysis or include a subsection so dedicated will be publicized. Meeting Announcements should include the Formal Title, Sponsoring Organization, Date Range, Location (City, State, and specific locale), Registration Deadline, Recommended Hotel (include details on special rates and deadlines where applicable), and Contact Individual’s Name, Phone Number, and email Address. If attendance is restricted, the restrictions should be specified. If available, the URL for the meeting website should also be included in the Announcement.
Employment Opportunities lists job announcements of presumed interest to the readership. In general, only jobs with a forensic chemistry/forensic drug analysis focus for Federal, State, or Local Crime Laboratories or Offices will be publicized. Exceptions may be requested and will be considered on a case-by-case basis (for example, an academic position in a Forensic Chemistry Department). Employment Opportunity announcements should include the Formal Title of the Organization, Formal Title of the Laboratory or Office, Position Title, Laboratory or Office Location (City and State), Salary Range, Opening and Closing Dates, Duties, General Requirements, Specialized Requirements (if any), Application Procedures, and the Contact Individual’s Name, Phone Number, email Address, and Mailing Address. If available, the URL for the agency’s website, and (if available) the specific URL for the job posting should also be included in the Announcement. Employment Opportunities will typically be posted for 3 consecutive months, but not past the application deadline.
The Journal/Textbook Collection Exchange - If any subscriber is interested in donating any forensic or analytical chemistry journal and/or textbook collection to a fellow subscriber or library, the Office of Forensic Sciences is willing to list the offered materials and the associated contact information in a future issue. The general format should follow the example in the January 2003 issue, and should be sent via email to the Microgram Editor at: DEA-Microgram -at- usdoj.gov. Only items for donation (not for sale) will be considered for publication, and donations to libraries should adhere to journal restrictions and/or time limits (if any) on such offers. Offerings will typically be posted for 3 consecutive months.
Selected Intelligence Briefs are reprinted (with permission) unclassified intelligence briefs of presumed interest to the readership that have been previously published in restricted or non-restricted publications or websites that are also dedicated to the detection and analyses of suspected controlled and/or abused substances for forensic/law enforcement purposes. Selected Intelligence Briefs must be unclassified, and should be a minimum of 1 page and a maximum of 10 pages in length (single spaced at 11 pitch Times New Roman font, including photos, tables, charts, etc.). All subscribers are invited to submit such material, which must include the author’s and publisher’s contact information.