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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Screening tool aids Chicago CBP drug fight

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Chicago O’Hare International Mail Facility Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers are using a hand-held device to screen packages that may contain common drugs and industrial chemicals.

Officials said the Gemini uses analytical techniques to screen packages using either the Raman technique or an infrared technique. The Raman technique, named after Sir C.V. Raman, uses a laser to analyze a substance without an officer opening the package and possibly being exposed to something hazardous.

If the Raman technique is inconclusive, officials said the officer can use the infrared technique, with the main difference in the techniques being the officer has to open the package to test the substance.

“We use the Gemini daily,” CBP Officer Francis Byrne said. “We analyze somewhere between 30 and 200 samples a day. Before we had it, we had to send everything to the lab, which could take a couple of weeks to identify. Now we can identify something immediately and make sure the substance doesn’t end up on the streets. It’s a great aid and keeps the officers safe.”

Officials noted so far this year the Chicago International Mail Facility leads the nation with more than 9,800 narcotic seizures, including cocaine, heroin, marijuana, steroids, designer drugs, and fentanyl.