Drug contamination of US paper currency
Jenkins AJ.
Office of the Cuyahoga County Coroner,
11001 Cedar Road, 44106,
Cleveland, OH, USA
Forensic Sci Int 2001 Oct 1;121(3):189-93


It is known that US paper currency in the general circulation is contaminated with cocaine. Several mechanisms have been offered to explain this finding, including contamination due to handling during drug deals and the use of rolled up bills for snorting. Drug is then transferred from one contaminated bill to others during counting in financial institutions. The possibility of contamination of currency with other drugs has not been reported. In this study, the author reports the analysis of 10 randomly collected US$ 1 bills from five cities, for cocaine, heroin, 6-acetylmorphine (6-AM), morphine, codeine, methamphetamine, amphetamine and phencyclidine (PCP). Bills were immersed in acetonitrile for 2h prior to extraction and GC-MS analysis. Results showed that 92% of the bills were positive for cocaine with a mean amount of 28.75+/-139.07&mgr;g per bill, a median of 1.37&mgr;g per bill, and a range of 0.01-922.72&mgr;g per bill. Heroin was detected in seven bills in amounts ranging from 0.03 to 168.50&mgr;g per bill: 6-AM and morphine were detected in three bills; methamphetamine and amphetamine in three and one bills, respectively, and PCP was detected in two bills in amounts of 0.78 and 1.87&mgr;g per bill. Codeine was not detected in any of the US$ 1 bills analyzed. This study demonstrated that although paper currency was most often contaminated with cocaine, other drugs of abuse may be detected in bills.

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