In a perplexing turn of events, the U.S. Secret Service announced on Thursday that it had concluded its investigation into the discovery of cocaine in the West Wing of the White House, citing a lack of physical evidence to identify a suspect. The incident, which occurred on July 2, raised concerns about the security of the presidential residence.
Officers from the Secret Service Uniformed Division stumbled upon an unknown substance inside a vestibule leading to the lobby area of the West Executive Avenue entrance. The substance was found in a receptacle designated for temporarily storing electronic and personal devices before entering the West Wing.
Following the discovery, precautionary safety measures were implemented around the White House to assess the nature of the substance and ensure it did not pose a threat to security. Field tests initially ruled out any hazardous compounds, and subsequent examinations conducted by the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department revealed that the powder tested preliminarily positive for cocaine.
The substance, along with its packaging, was treated as evidence and sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center for further analysis. The center’s tests confirmed the substance was not a biothreat, eliminating concerns regarding its biological nature.
To determine the source and potential culprits, the Secret Service said it conducted forensic testing on the substance and packaging. Chemical composition analysis was carried out, and advanced fingerprint and DNA analysis were performed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s crime laboratory. However, despite these efforts, the forensic examination yielded inconclusive results.
Simultaneously, the Secret Service reviewed security systems and protocols, meticulously analyzing the days leading up to the substance’s discovery. This comprehensive examination identified a pool of several hundred individuals who had access to the area where the substance was found. However, without sufficient physical evidence, investigators were unable to compare forensic evidence against the known pool of individuals.
On July 12, the Secret Service received the FBI laboratory results, which unfortunately did not yield any latent fingerprints and provided insufficient DNA for investigative comparisons. The FBI confirmed that the substance was indeed cocaine. Furthermore, no surveillance video footage was found that could provide valuable leads in identifying the individual responsible for depositing the substance, the Secret Service said.
As a result of these limitations, the Secret Service said that it was left with no viable means to single out a person of interest from the extensive list of individuals who passed through the vestibule during the relevant period. It added that due to the absence of physical evidence, the investigation into the White House cocaine discovery has been officially closed.
READ FULL Secret Service Official Statement on the Investigation of Cocaine Found in the White House
Published By U.S. Secret Service Media Relations
On the evening of July 2, officers from the U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division found an unknown substance inside a vestibule leading to the lobby area of the West Executive Avenue entrance to the White House.
The substance was located inside a receptacle used to temporarily store electronic and personal devices prior to entering the West Wing.
Following the discovery, safety closures were implemented around the White House. This response was designed to ensure that the found substance was not a chemical or radiological material that threatened the security of the White House. As such, the substance was field tested and preliminarily determined to not be a hazardous compound.
Testing conducted by the District of Columbia Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department indicated that the found powder tested preliminarily positive for the presence of cocaine. The substance and packaging were treated as evidence and sent to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center, which analyzed the item for any biothreats. Tests conducted at this facility came back negative and gave formal confirmation that the substance was not biological in nature.
The substance and packaging underwent further forensic testing. The substance was analyzed for its chemical composition. The packaging was subjected to advanced fingerprint and DNA analysis. Both of these analyses were conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s crime laboratory given their expertise in this area and independence from the investigation.
While awaiting the FBl’s results, the Secret Service investigation into how this item entered the White House continued. The investigation included a methodical review of security systems and protocols. This review included a backwards examination that spanned several days prior to the discovery of the substance and developed an index of several hundred individuals who may have accessed the area where the substance was found. The focal point of these actions developed a pool of known persons for comparison of forensic evidence gleaned from the FBI’s analysis of the substance’s packaging.
On July 12, the Secret Service received the FBI’s laboratory results, which did not develop latent fingerprints and insufficient DNA was present for investigative comparisons. Therefore, the Secret Service is not able to compare evidence against the known pool of individuals. The FBl’s evaluation of the substance also confirmed that it was cocaine.
There was no surveillance video footage found that provided investigative leads or any other means for investigators to identify who may have deposited the found substance in this area. Without physical evidence, the investigation will not be able to single out a person of interest from the hundreds of individuals who passed through the vestibule where the cocaine was discovered. At this time, the Secret Service’s investigation is closed due to a lack of physical evidence.
The U.S. Secret Service takes its mission to protect U.S. leaders, facilities, and events seriously and we are constantly adapting to meet the needs of the current and future security environment.