Occurrence of contamination by controlled substances in Euro banknotes from the Spanish archipelago of the Canary Islands

J Forensic Sci. 2011 Nov;56(6):1588-93. doi: 10.1111/j.1556-4029.2011.01851.x. Epub 2011 Jul 25.


The social problems of drug abuse are a matter of increasing global problem. Nowadays, international agencies need fresh methods to monitor trends of the use of illicit drugs. In this sense, small amounts of drugs are transferred to banknotes and they could be detected and quantified. An analytical procedure based upon extraction with organic solvent, liquid chromatography separation, and mass spectrometric detection allowed the identification of 21 drugs and metabolites in 120 used Euro banknotes collected in the Canary Islands (Spain). Most of the banknotes analyzed showed detectable drug residues (92.5%). Cocaine was the most frequently detected drug, present in approximately 90% of the samples. In addition, 75%, 35%, and 15% of the banknotes showed residues of amphetamine derivatives, opiates, and benzodiazepines, respectively. An average of three drug residues per banknote was detected. In summary, the presence of drug residues in banknotes could be useful as tracer for drugs prevalence.