Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sniffing out billions in U.S. currency smuggled across the border to Mexico

Date:
August 12, 2014
Source:
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Summary:
Criminals are smuggling an estimated $30 billion in U.S. currency into Mexico each year from the United States, but help could be on the way for border guards, researchers report. The answer to the problem: a portable device that identifies specific vapors emitted by U.S. paper money, to be described by researchers.

Criminals are smuggling an estimated $30 billion in U.S. currency into Mexico each year from the United States, but help could be on the way for border guards, researchers report. The answer to the problem: a portable device that identifies specific vapors given off by U.S. paper money.

They will present the new research at the 248th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in San Fransisco today.

In the past fiscal year, law enforcement officials say they uncovered more than $106 million in smuggled cash headed from the U.S. to Mexico. But this was only a small portion of the billions that made it across the border undetected -- hidden among belongings, in clothing or elsewhere. The bulk of that currency is laundered drug money. Travelers crossing the U.S./Mexico border are required to report cash or endorsed checks over $10,000. If they don't declare larger sums, the money that is found can be seized.

"We're developing a device that mimics the function of trained dogs 'sniffing' out concealed money, but without the drawbacks, such as expensive training, sophisticated operators, down time and communication limitations," says Suiqiong Li, Ph.D., a member of the research team. "The system would extract gas samples from the traveler or from bags, vehicles and shipping containers. It would detect the trace currency emission signature even in the presence of car exhaust, perfumes, food and a range of temperatures, atmospheric pressures and relative humidity."

Li says the technique, known as the Bulk Currency Detection System (BCDS), should work effectively within the seconds or few minutes it takes for border inspections. It involves gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS), a widely used analytical technique. Experts already use this method for analyzing vapors to detect drugs and explosives, as well as to investigate the causes of fires and identify unknown compounds. But the current way to uncover smuggled money depends on checks by guards or trained dogs, without the benefit of any devices, according to Li.

The BCDS is being designed to find the emissions signature of the currency despite the presence of strong background gases and contaminants. It would be an automated, hidden-money screening system, using GC/MS plus solid-phase microextraction and a thermal desorption technique. BCDS would automatically extract, preconcentrate and analyze the gases, Li explains.

When developing the device, the researchers first had to figure out which gases money emits and how fast that happens. It turned out that the gases are a set of trace chemicals, including aldehydes, furans and organic acids.

"We have found that U.S. currency emits a wide range of volatile organic compounds that make up a possible 'fingerprint' that we can identify in less than a minute," explains Joseph Stetter, Ph.D., principal investigator for the study. He and Li are with KWJ Engineering, Inc. This is the first report of the feasibility of sampling emission rates with a practical, money-detecting device, he says. To capture the gases, which are specific to U.S. paper money, guards would pass a probe over clothing or into baggage. If the probe detects a high intensity of the gases, it will indicate that a large amount of money likely is present, he says.

The researchers say the device should lead to a significant improvement in detecting smuggled currency and have a strong economic impact for the United States. Stetter estimated that it would take from two to three years to develop the device for use by border guards.

The researchers acknowledge funding from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Office of Technology Development.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Chemical Society (ACS). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Chemical Society (ACS). "Sniffing out billions in U.S. currency smuggled across the border to Mexico." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 August 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812121547.htm>.
American Chemical Society (ACS). (2014, August 12). Sniffing out billions in U.S. currency smuggled across the border to Mexico. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812121547.htm
American Chemical Society (ACS). "Sniffing out billions in U.S. currency smuggled across the border to Mexico." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/08/140812121547.htm (accessed October 22, 2014).

Share This



More Science & Society News

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

CDC Revamps Ebola Guidelines After Criticism

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued new protocols for healthcare workers interacting with Ebola patients. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Robots to Fly Planes Where Humans Can't

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 21, 2014) Researchers in South Korea are developing a robotic pilot that could potentially replace humans in the cockpit. Unlike drones and autopilot programs which are configured for specific aircraft, the robots' humanoid design will allow it to fly any type of plane with no additional sensors. Ben Gruber reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Trials to Start a in January

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Tens of thousands of doses of experimental Ebola vaccines could be available for "real-world" testing in West Africa as soon as January as long as they are deemed safe in soon to start trials, the World Health Organization said Tuesday. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Urgent-Care Clinics Ill-Equipped to Treat Ebola

Urgent-Care Clinics Ill-Equipped to Treat Ebola

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Urgent-care clinics popping up across the US are not equipped to treat a serious illness like Ebola and have been told to immediately call a hospital and public health officials if they suspect a patient may be infected. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Science & Society

Business & Industry

Education & Learning

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins