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The Columbus Police Department Forensic Laboratory has identified several new controlled substances in the area over the past three months as local narcotics agents have made large scale confiscations of Spice.  According to lab Director Austin Shepherd, “Spice, which previously had never been identified in the State of Mississippi, has been positively identified by the Columbus Forensic Lab”.

Local and state narcotics agents say that they have sent similar substances to other labs within the state and the substances have gone unidentified.  The identification of the new substance has allowed for the compound to be added to the State Controlled Substance Schedule.

Director Shepherd attributes the success to his two new forensic analysts.  “The addition of Dr. Xu and Ms. Gilman has further raised the bar within our controlled substance section.  Our small lab may not offer the number of services that larger labs offer but what we do, we do well”.

In a forensic laboratory setting, a forensic analyst is an investigator of science.  “It is not uncommon to see my forensic chemists searching through the DEA databases and visually comparing their data to find a match when we get an unknown substance.  There is a heavy investigative and research emphasis to our lab that I greatly encourage that larger labs may not have due to pressure and time constraints.  The analyst, many times, must put on the hat of an investigator and, using the scientific method, figure out what a substance is…basically a modern Sherlock Holmes.”

It doesn’t stop there.  In the past few weeks the Columbus Forensic Lab has identified more new drugs for the area.  “The landscape is changing for drug users.  With more access to chemicals and chemistry supplies the black market is being flooded with “designer drugs” that can range from pills to new compounds that fall under the Spice category.  Law enforcement agents and crime labs have to stay up-to-date and aware of current trends within the market to curtail the damage that these substances can do to a community”, Shepherd states referring to a recently identified drug in the area that is responsible for numerous deaths throughout the U.S.

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