Scientific reports

Geographically Sourcing Cocaine's Origin - Delineation of the Nineteen Major Coca Growing Regions in South America.

PMID 27006288


Previously, geo-sourcing to five major coca growing regions within South America was accomplished. However, the expansion of coca cultivation throughout South America made sub-regional origin determinations increasingly difficult. The former methodology was recently enhanced with additional stable isotope analyses ((2)H and (18)O) to fully characterize cocaine due to the varying environmental conditions in which the coca was grown. An improved data analysis method was implemented with the combination of machine learning and multivariate statistical analysis methods to provide further partitioning between growing regions. Here, we show how the combination of trace cocaine alkaloids, stable isotopes, and multivariate statistical analyses can be used to classify illicit cocaine as originating from one of 19 growing regions within South America. The data obtained through this approach can be used to describe current coca cultivation and production trends, highlight trafficking routes, as well as identify new coca growing regions.