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Drugs on money

Drugs on money


Under The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) both the Police and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are permitted to confiscate money and seize banknotes, if it can be shown to be associated with drug dealing or drug trafficking. One way of doing that is to analyse seized bank notes for traces of controlled drugs (so called drugs on money). However, if traces of drugs are detected on those banknotes the big question is how did those drugs get there?


Drugs on money forensic expert

Drugs on money forensic expert

Anne Franc CBiol. MSB.


Banknotes contaminated with illicit drugs - Asset seizure and confiscation under the proceeds of crime act 2002 money laundering 


Recent statistics indicate that in London alone 99% of all banknotes in circulation may be contaminated with cocaine. The prevalence of general circulation banknotes contaminated with other controlled drugs will vary depending on the drug. However, indications suggest that contamination of general circulation banknotes with other common drugs may also be rising. This raises the question of how different is the drug contamination on the seized cash to the drug contamination on banknotes in general circulation.


Our scientists are experts in drugs contamination on banknotes and can reanalyse the evidence from banknotes seized under the proceeds of crime act and put any drugs contamination found into context. 


Confiscation and seizure of modest amounts of money

It is not common knowledge that in civil cases, where the police seek to confiscate relatively modest amounts of money and cash under The Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), that they believe to be drugs related, that those banknotes may not be subjected to  detailed forensic drugs testing  (i.e. A full Mass Spectrometry analysis by a recognised forensic provider).  Instead police officers may choose to subject some of the banknotes seized to presumptive in-house testing, using a screening device known as an ‘Itemiser’. This presumptive testing may then be used to apply to the court to confiscate all of the cash, based on the premise that the owner of the money is not likely to contest its confiscation. This form of presumptive testing is open to question and different interpretation if reviewed by a forensic expert in drugs on money testing. Our experts have unrivaled knowledge of this Itemiser testing process and interpretation of the results that it generates.

Drugs on money - case example


A person found in possession of a large amount of cash, which the police suspect is the proceeds of drug dealing. The banknotes are analysed for traces of controlled drugs and the presence and contamination of heroin is reported. The owner of the money is charged with drug offenses and and the police apply for forfeiture of the cash under The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 Money Laundering.


How can our forensic scientists whom are highly skilled in the analysis of drugs on banknotes help?


Our forensic scientists have years of experience in trace analysis and in reviewing these types of cases. They can re-evaluate the forensic evidence to include:


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