Secret Service investigating suspected cocaine found inside White House complex

Further testing was being conducted.

July 5, 2023, 9:37 AM

The U.S. Secret Service on Tuesday said it was investigating an "unknown item" found inside the White House complex on Sunday that sources said was described in radio traffic as a cocaine-like substance.

"On Sunday evening, the White House complex went into a precautionary closure as officers from the Secret Service uniformed division investigated an unknown item found inside a work area," Secret Service spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement.

PHOTO: Exterior view of the Northern side of the White House in Washington D.C., May 8, 2023.
Exterior view of the Northern side of the White House in Washington D.C., May 8, 2023.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

"The DC fire department was called to evaluate and quickly determined the item to be non-hazardous. The item was sent for further evaluation and an investigation into the cause and manner of how it entered the White House is pending," he said.

Sources told ABC News radio traffic from D.C. Fire and EMS described a powdery, cocaine-like substance being found on the White House grounds and the preliminary results from an initial field test.

"We have a result on the [inaudible]" a voice on the traffic can be heard saying. "We have a yellow bar stating cocaine hydrochloride."

The powder was found in the West Wing area of the White House, multiple law enforcement sources told ABC News.

Some visitors are able to tour parts of the West Wing, and tours typically take place on the weekends.

When asked if there were tours last weekend, the Secret Service would not confirm that, saying: "These are details that are pertinent to our investigation and not something we can get into."

Cocaine hydrochloride can be used as an anesthetic or to control bleeding, but it is also considered to have effects similar to crack cocaine, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The physiological and psychoactive effects of cocaine are similar regardless of whether it is in the form of cocaine hydrochloride or crack cocaine (cocaine base)," the study says.

The "item" was sent to a Secret Service lab for further testing, the sources said.

President Joe Biden was at Camp David at the time.

The White House on Tuesday referred reporter questions about the matter to the Secret Service.

ABC News' Justin Gomez and Quinn Owen contributed to this report.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the study mentioned was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).