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The Boston Globe


lawrence harmon

Black mark on the state drug lab

Disturbing details are starting to emerge about the alleged mishandling of drug samples at the state testing laboratory in Jamaica Plain, including the combining of drug evidence from unrelated criminal cases to assure positive results. If true, it’s a terrible revelation made worse by the fact that former forensic chemist Annie Dookhan, who is the subject of a criminal probe by the attorney general and State Police, was the busiest scientist in town.

A forensic chemist might be expected to test about 2,500 samples in a given year, according to Garth Glassburg, a core member of the Scientific Working Group for the Analysis of Seized Drugs, a group of international scientists and investigators that recommends minimum standards for forensic examinations. But state officials have indicated that Dookhan handled more than 60,000 cases over the course of her 9-year career, almost three times what might be expected.

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