100 percent contamination of Euro notes with Cocaine

Jan 10, 2007

An ongoing research project into the detection of illicit drug use has shown that of a sample of bank notes in current circulation in the greater Dublin area - €5, €10, €20 and €50 denominations - 100% of them showed contamination with cocaine.

The research was carried out by PhD student, Jonathan Bones, working under the supervision of Professor Brett Paull at DCU's National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR) which specialises in sensor technology used in medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring and other industrial applications. The research was funded by the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology.

Using a technique involving chromatography/mass spectrometry, a sample of 45 bank notes were analysed to show the level of contamination by cocaine. The cotton structure of the Euro bank notes absorbs chemical residues, making it relatively easy to analyse. While all of the notes proved positive for cocaine contamination, three showed the presence of heroin. Contamination can occur whenever direct contact between the note and the drug takes place, either through the common practice of 'snorting' through a rolled-up banknote, as a result of transfer during drug dealing or through the cross-contamination of notes during the counting process in financial institutions.

62% of notes were contaminated with levels of cocaine at concentrations greater than 2 nanograms/note, with 5% of the notes showing levels greater than 100 times higher, indicating suspected direct use of the note in either drug dealing or drug inhalation. The highest amounts of cocaine residues were found on €20 and €50 bank notes, as compared to €5 and €10. The remainder of the notes which showed only ultra-trace quantities of cocaine was most probably the result of contact with other contaminated notes, which could have occurred within bank counting machines or from other contaminated surfaces.

"This is the largest sample of notes ever used in an experiment of this kind in Ireland", Bones said. "A larger number of notes would give a more representative view of cocaine use in our society, but the number used is sufficient from which to draw conclusions. The most recent survey carried out in the US showed 65% of dollar notes were contaminated with cocaine. However, the 100% rate uncovered in this project was surprising. Although not a quantitative measure, the presence of illicit substances on banknotes in general circulation provides an indication of the degree to which substances are being used by the community".

"The greatest advantage to using money as the test matrix is that it is readily available, non-invasive, anonymous and relatively safe to work with. Further research would need to be carried out to provide a more accurate picture of the scope of cocaine and heroin use in Ireland today", said Professor Brett Paull.

Source: Dublin City University

Explore further: Continued reliance on Windows XP in physician practices may threaten data security

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Seven charged in $6B online money laundering case

May 29, 2013

Calling it perhaps the biggest money laundering scheme in U.S. history, federal prosecutors charged seven people Tuesday with running what amounted to an online, underworld bank that handled $6 billion for ...

How dirty is your money?

Sep 13, 2007

Drug dealers found with bank notes contaminated with unusually high levels of drugs are now less likely to get away with their crimes, thanks to new evidence from a team led by the University of Bristol, UK. The research ...

Recommended for you

What are the chances that your dad isn't your dad?

Apr 16, 2014

How confident are you that the man you call dad is really your biological father? If you believe some of the most commonly-quoted figures, you could be forgiven for not being very confident at all. But how ...

New technology that is revealing the science of chewing

Apr 15, 2014

CSIRO's 3D mastication modelling, demonstrated for the first time in Melbourne today, is starting to provide researchers with new understanding of how to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food products, as well ...

After skin cancer, removable model replaces real ear

Apr 11, 2014

(HealthDay)—During his 10-year struggle with basal cell carcinoma, Henry Fiorentini emerged minus his right ear, and minus the hearing that goes with it. The good news: Today, the 56-year-old IT programmer ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

LADEE mission ends with planned lunar impact

(Phys.org) —Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface ...

A full-spectrum Mars simulation in a box

There are many reasons why Mars excels at destroying expensive equipment. For one thing, its entire surface is made of partially-magnetized dust. For another, Mars possesses just enough atmosphere so that ...