The Drug Residue on Your Money Just Got Way More Incriminating

By RunRedFox · Aug 14, 2007 · ·
  1. RunRedFox
    The Drug Residue on Your Money Just Got Way More Incriminating

    August 13, 2007 | 6:21:37 PMCategories: Drugs & Alcohol
    [​IMG] If you are looking for drugs, look no further than your wallet or purse. Paper money is almost always tainted with drug residue. When cops seize cash from someone, they can trace where it came from by analyzing illicit chemicals found on the bills.
    Imagine this: Some guy that was running a money laundering operation gets caught with a pile of cash. Chemists in a crime lab determine that some of the bills have the same type and amount of drug residue that was found on a drug dealer's stash of cash. This provides some extra evidence that the guy was laundering money for the drug dealer.
    Law enforcement officials once argued that any trace of illicit substances on seized cash was evidence sufficient to connect a defendant with a drug-related crime. Then, in the mid-1980's, scientists made it clear that nearly all paper money is contaminated with at least some drug residue. Once that news sunk in, the rules of the game changed. Defense attorneys could argue that a small amount of residue on cash was not sufficient evidence to convict their clients.

    In recent trials, people caught with unusually dirty money have tried to wiggle out of trouble by saying that their cash came from a shady neighborhood. They argue that bank notes from bad places are more likely to have a high level of drug residue. Five scientists from Bristol, England have proven them wrong.

    Scientists from Mass Spec Analytical Limited and the University of Bristol traveled all around England, Scotland, and Wales. They collected £10 and £20 notes from areas that are rich and poor, urban and rural, safe and dangerous. Using a machine called a mass spectrometer, the researchers performed a careful chemical analysis of each bill, allowing them to gather statistics on the levels of cocaine, heroin, marijuana, and ecstasy in each bank note and relate those measurements to where it came from.
    In the current issue of Forensic Science International, the team led by James F. Carter and Richard Sleeman concluded that there is no meaningful relationship between where a bill came from and the type or amount of drug residue is on it.
    As a basis of comparison, they added a clever trick to their test.
    On each trip to the bank, one of the researchers would note the arm on which he was wearing his wristwatch. The statistics showed that the arm he wore his watch on had as much of a bearing on the pattern of drug residue as where the bills came from.
    The scientists rationalized that since bills are circulated quickly, their geographic origin is totally unrelated to how contaminated they are. Thus, if someone gets caught with a stash of drug money, they can no longer blame the above-average levels of residue on the hood where they got it.

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  1. Pondlife
    Money circulates. No shit shirlock.

    Yes, real clever trick that. I wonder why other statisticians don't use it.

    Well, yes and no. They have data that supports the theory that the level of contamination is unrelated to the neighbourhood where they got the money. I won't go into whether their data is sufficient to prove that as we don't know much about the actual data.

    However, it says nothing about the distribution of drug contamination levels in general, or how much would be considered infeasible without direct contamination by the owner. As such, I can't see this study being much use to prosecutors. Just because I've got notes with a higher than average charlie content doesn't mean anything, as statistically half of all the notes will be above average. The question is what is the distribution, and what level do you need before you can be certain enough to make a case that will stand up in court.
  2. Felonious Skunk
    It's simple. If one is dealing in cocaine, one dusts the cash with heroin, etc. Let the prosecutor add one more deranged theory to the list of ones he's already tagging to the accused...
  3. yamman13
    coudlnt some be unlucky though, and be paid in cash by an addict, thus having a lot of residue on his money, even if he isnt a user?
  4. old hippie 56
    Guess that where the term money laundering comes from.:) Need to wash your money.
  5. hoodabudda
  6. RunRedFox
    my question is; do cocaine dealers like to rub cocaine all over all of their money... why should residue on money have any corelation to if one sells drugs, I doubt an individual would make an extra effort to expose the hundreds of 20's to cocaine for kicks...
  7. thrackelsby

    Oh hell yeah, we all do. It's one of those things you do when you deal coke. Outsiders wouldn't understand.*

    *Note: I do not actually sell cocaine, that was sarcasm.
  8. lulz
    Mmm... nothing beats snorting a good line of marijuana.

    No, I lie. Bananadine IV for the win!
  9. Felonious Skunk
    People should start rubbing mescaline sulfate on currency--just to make things really ludicrous...
  10. hoodabudda
    dont forget smoking acetaminophen. thats a personal fav
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