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Proceedings Paper

Novel sample preparation methods and field testing procedures used to determine the chemical basis of cocaine detection by canines
Author(s): Kenneth G. Furton; Ya-Li Hsu; Tien-Ying Luo; Nayiby Alvarez; Pedro Lagos
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Paper Abstract

The use of canines to signal money associated with drug trafficking is a major point of contention among dog handlers, forensic scientists, and the legal community particularly in light of recent reports that a significant amount of money in circulation is contaminated with detectable amounts of cocaine. The questions raised include: What exactly are the dogs alerting to? How selective are the dogs? How sensitive are the dogs? How reliable are the dogs? Tests with various volatile cocaine by-products confirm that the dominant chemical in cocaine odor is methyl benzoate. Field tests on fifteen different drug detector dogs with varying breeds, ages and training regimes show a consistent threshold level of 1 (mu) g of methyl benzoate spiked along with cocaine on U.S. currency required to initiate an alert. The majority of the canines did not alert to pharmaceutical grade cocaine even at levels as high as 1 g. Methyl benzoate is shown to evaporate rapidly from individual bills and is a function of the available surface area for wrapped currency. The canines tested were remarkably selective and reliable even under varying test conditions and using different delivery devices.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 February 1997
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 2941, Forensic Evidence Analysis and Crime Scene Investigation, (10 February 1997); doi: 10.1117/12.266313
Show Author Affiliations
Kenneth G. Furton, Florida International Univ. (United States)
Ya-Li Hsu, Florida International Univ. (United States)
Tien-Ying Luo, Florida International Univ. (United States)
Nayiby Alvarez, Florida International Univ. (United States)
Pedro Lagos, Florida International Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 2941:
Forensic Evidence Analysis and Crime Scene Investigation
John Hicks; Peter R. De Forest; Vivian M. Baylor, Editor(s)

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