According to The Guardian, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) were told by police experts today that trace amounts of cocaine powder can be found in about one in 10 UK banknotes.
In 2005, only four percent of banknotes tested positive for cocaine residue. This year, 15 police forces carried out the testing, and they suggested that due to extended bar and pub hours that began in 2006, cocaine use greatly increased. Most users are men in their twenties, who wish to continue drinking but do not want to become fatigued. Britain has the highest rate of cocaine use compared to all other European countries, the US, and Australia.
While some banknotes are directly tied to drug users and traffickers, most get contaminated by simply coming into contact with other banknotes. According to Mass Spec Analytical, a UK forensic company that carries out drug analysis on banknotes, their databases demonstrate that "UK and Euro banknotes are expected to have cocaine on them. This is due in part to the stability of cocaine, and the perpetuation of cocaine traces on bank counting machines etc."
If cocaine is mixed with other substances like MDMA, the profit margin for it can also rapidly increase. For £52,000, a seller can purchase a kilo of cocaine powder with 75 percent purity. If the seller sells this at £1,500 an ounce, this would mean £2,000 in total profits. "But if that was 'bulked out or bashed' to make 106 ounces of cocaine," reported The Guardian, "that would sell for £1,000 each." A seller would then double the profits and make £106,000.
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