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Western Crime Lab

The Western Regional Laboratory is located in Asheville and was the first satellite laboratory in the state, established in the early 1980s. The building consists of 14,000 square feet of laboratory space staffed by full-time analysts and support personnel who serve state, federal, and local law enforcement in western North Carolina.

The Western Regional Crime Lab currently provides criminal justice agencies with forensic analysis in the following disciplines: latent (fingerprint analysis), drug chemistry, firearms, and toxicology.

The North Carolina Department of Justice is constructing a new Western Regional Crime Lab facility in Edneyville that will be roughly twice as large as the current facility. The new facility is expected to open in early 2017 and will add DNA analysis to the types of forensic services available at the lab.

Forensic Scientists in latent evidence use a wide variety of traditional chemical, light sources, and image enhancement to process evidence and develop prints. Once visible, the prints are compared to known standards, as well as the AFIS database (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) for analysis. Shoe and Tire Track Analysis is also performed by trained scientists.

Drug Chemistry is a modern forensic drug analysis laboratory. Submissions follow national trends monitored by the DEA, with marijuana and cocaine making up the majority of drugs analyzed. A great number of tablets, pharmaceutical and illicit, are submitted each year. Clandestine laboratory sites remain an issue in western North Carolina, with methamphetamine as the predominate substance manufactured.

The Western Crime Laboratory serves law enforcement in North Carolina counties that are generally west of Interstate 77.

Western Regional Crime Lab: Forensic Scientist Manager Ana Baxter