State drug lab under investigationEvidence tampered with or missing, police say
The state's Controlled Substances Lab has discontinued drug analysis after officials say substances sent to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner for analysis were compromised.
A joint investigation by Delaware State Police and the Attorney General's Office began a month ago after drug evidence submitted for analysis to the lab had been tampered with, was missing or had been substituted, said Sgt. Paul Shavack of the Delaware State Police.
Police conducted internal audits of police evidence lockers, which detected discrepancies amongst several Delaware law enforcement agencies involving drug evidence they submitted to the lab and evidence that was returned to police evidence lockers in sealed envelopes after analysis and testing, Shavack said.
State Prosecutor Kathy Jennings said the missing evidence was discovered in February during the trial stage of a Kent County criminal drug prosecution. "Immediate steps were taken to examine the scope of the problem," Jennings said. Additional measures have been taken to ensure the integrity of evidence in criminal drug prosecutions, she added.
"In addition, we have notified defense counsel and the courts of this matter in order to ensure that the due process rights of the accused are protected," Jennings said.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is fully cooperating in the investigation, and all drug evidence has been secured, Shavack said. The Controlled Substances Lab has discontinued drug analysis, however, all other functions of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner remain uninterrupted and fully functional, he said.
Shavack declined to provide the value of any missing substances. He said no further information will be released to avoid jeopardizing police efforts by discussing investigative details.