Amarillo DPS Crime Lab seeing rise of cases

VIDEO: Amarillo DPS Crime Lab seeing rise of cases
Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 4:26 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Amarillo’s Department of Public Safety’s Crime Lab opened its doors today for National Forensic Science Week, showing how the lab handles the increasing number of cases it receives.

“We consistently see an increase in the amount of work that we received from the law enforcement in the Texas Panhandle, our process is as transparent as far as the work that we do, but we have to do it behind closed doors to ensure the quality that we do ensure the integrity of evidence,” said Brandon Conrad, laboratory manger, Amarillo DPS Crime Lab.

Amarillo is in a unique spot, due to its location and connection to Interstate 40, which has played into the rise of drug cases in the area.

“We see bulk evidence, mainly due to our proximity to Interstate 40. The Interstate 40 doesn’t have immigration checkpoints on it. Its known as pretty much the drug corridor of the U.S.,” said Conrad.

The lab began over 20 years ago with one person running it, and it now has multiple technicians and forensic scientists working to get through cases.

“When I started here in 2002, my supervisor at the time was the only chemist working on cases. In 2009, we hired our third person. We’ve gone up from one evidence technician to three evidence technicians to handle the vast volume that we do,” said Conrad.

Conrad said that many items come into the area, but one that is concerning to see, is fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is problem all across the country, it’s cheap to make and whoever’s creating these straight samples are thrown it in everything. Pills seem to be safe but these aren’t made by pharmaceutical company,” said Conrad. “You don’t know how much fentanyl you’re getting to a phase, what time do you think you’re getting the hydrocodone tablet, and you’re actually getting fentanyl with it.”