White powder at White House identified as cocaine, prompts probe

US media has reported that the drug was discovered in a public area of the West Wing, where tour groups often visit.

A suspicious white powder found at the White House over the weekend has been identified as cocaine, according to United States media outlets.

The powder was discovered by Secret Service agents in a publicly accessible area of the West Wing on Sunday around 8:45pm local time (00:45 GMT on Monday), prompting a brief evacuation of the complex.

President Joe Biden was not in the building at the time. He was instead spending the weekend at the presidential retreat Camp David.

Fire and emergency crews responded to perform rapid tests on the substance. Those preliminary tests showed the powder to be cocaine.

The White House reopened soon after, and the powder was dispatched for further testing.

The Secret Service has not yet confirmed what the substance was, saying only that an “item” had been found and tested.

“The item was sent for further evaluation, and an investigation into the cause and manner of how it entered the White House is pending,” the agency, which is tasked with presidential security, said in a statement.

But the drug was identified in multiple media outlets, citing government sources. The Washington Post also reported “a firefighter with the DC department’s hazardous materials team radioed the results” of the tested powder, citing an online database of emergency responder communications.

The radio dispatch said, “We have a yellow bar saying cocaine hydrochloride.”

The area where the cocaine was found is regularly accessed by tour groups.

The West Wing is a portion of the White House attached to the executive mansion where the president lives. It includes the Oval Office, cabinet room and press area, along with offices and workspaces for the president’s advisers and staff.

Hundreds of people work in or come through the area regularly.

Biden and his family left for Camp David on Friday and returned to the White House on Tuesday, where the president addressed a national teachers’ union and was set to host a barbecue to mark US Independence Day.