What’s In Your Wallet? Probably Cocaine!
You know how you always feel a little uneasy going through airport security, even though you know you didn’t do anything and there isn’t really any possible why that you could be guilty of any of the myriad of crimes they are attempting to detect?
Well, not so fast…your wallet may just contain enough coke to get those specially trained dogs to turn their noses in your direction and give their handlers the magic wink that lands you in the slammer!
Up To 80% of All US Bills Contain Trace Amounts of Cocaine
In one 1985 study done by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration on the money machines in a U.S. Federal Reserve district bank, random samples of $50 and $100 bills revealed that a third to a half of all the currency tested bore traces of cocaine. Moreover, the machines themselves were often found to test positive, meaning that subsequent batches of cash fed through them would also pick up cocaine residue. Expert evidence given before a federal appeals court in 1995 showed that three out of four bills randomly examined in the Los Angeles area bore traces of the drug.
In a 1997 study conducted at the Argonne National Laboratory, nearly four out of five one-dollar bills in Chicago suburbs were found to bear discernable traces of cocaine. In another study, more than 135 bills from seven U.S. cities were tested, and all but four were contaminated with traces of cocaine. These bills had been collected from restaurants, stores, and banks in cities from Milwaukee to Dallas.
Causing Problems for Law Enforcement
As you may also have guessed, the coke-laced bills can cause problems for law enforcement officials. From tafkac.org:
The problem is that cocaine sticks to cash whenever money is handled by drug dealers and users. And studies show that cocaine is in such wide use nationally that a sizable percentage of paper money bears traces of it — a finding that courts are starting to cite in ruling against prosecutors.
Within the past 18 months, two federal appeal courts have strongly questioned the government’s reliance on cocaine-tainted cash. And in a ruling in April, a federal trial judge said the mere presence of such cocaine traces doesn’t give officials the necessary “probable cause” to launch an extensive search to confiscate the cash.
Nancy Hollander, president of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said, “We’re going to see more and more lawyers using these rulings in arguments to suppress evidence by challenging the validity of dog sniffs [detecting cocaine] and confiscation of cash.”
The problem isn’t really that so many bills are actually used by people snorting coke. Modern bank machines and money sorters use forced air to separate the bills. Therefore one tainted bill can easily contaminate an entire batch. The more the bills circulate the greater the chance that they will come in contact with second-hand coke and be contaminated.
I guess this phenomenon brings a whole new meaning to the term money laundering! Maybe leaving a few bills in your jeans when they go through the wash isn’t such a bad idea after all.