A study of DNA transfers onto plastic packets placed in personal bags

Li Yen Candy Lee; Yong Sheng Lee; Jiayu Tan; Jun Yu Lee; Christopher Kiu‐Choong Syn

Abstract

The ability to detect low level DNA brings with it the uncertainty of whether the detected DNA is a result of transfer. To address this uncertainty, a simulation study was conducted in which a mock illicit drug packet was placed into the personal bags of individuals. When the average transit time of the packets was increased from around 2 h to more than 14 h, the percentage of the DNA profiles recovered from the packets which could be attributed to the individuals increased greatly from 5.3% to 48.6%. We found that drug packers who were poor shedders could not be included as contributors to the DNA profiles from the drug packets at all and there was a higher chance that individuals other than themselves could be included as contributors to the DNA profile recovered from drug packets. We also found that it was equally likely that the drug packers who had direct contact with the drug packets and bag owners who did not, could be included as contributors to the DNA profiles recovered from the packets. The results in this study highlight the importance of taking into consideration the transit time of drug packet, the shedder status of the alleged packer and the history of an item, when evaluating DNA evidence in the context of illicit drug activities.