How Police Destroy Leftover Drug Evidence

Officials face numerous hurdles in incineration process
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2014 12:47 PM CDT
How Police Destroy Leftover Drug Evidence
In this Jan. 16, 2014, file photo, Ohio Highway Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston stands in a storage area for boxes of drugs already tested by the patrol's crime lab in Columbus, Ohio.   (AP Photo/Kantele Franko, File)

What happens to all the drugs police seize, once the stuff has already served its purpose as evidence? Well, it's typically burned, the AP reports, though there's a lot of variety in how authorities go about it. Drugs have been incinerated everywhere from crematories to factories to hospitals. Each method has its drawbacks, ranging from regulatory rules to practical concerns.

In the past, for instance, thousands of pounds of illicit substances were disposed of through vaporization in molten steel. Some feared the fumes could affect employee drug tests, however, and the companies in charge of the factories worried their products would be damaged. Environmental rules, meanwhile, make destruction more difficult in states like California. There, authorities must turn to incinerators that have been approved by the EPA. Many officials prefer to keep quiet about how they get rid of drugs: "The word gets out there that this facility does it, then 50 other agencies want to go there," says an Ohio police rep. (Read more drugs stories.)

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