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The Almighty Buck Crime Government United States

Sniffing Out Billions In US Currency Smuggled Across the Border To Mexico 158

Posted by timothy
from the don't-steal-the-government-hates-competition dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Criminals smuggle an estimated $30 billion in U.S. currency into Mexico each year from the United States, most of it laundered drug money. But researchers say help is on the way for border guards in the form of a portable device that identifies specific vapors given off by U.S. paper money. "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 behind the technology. 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." What do bitcoins smell like?
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Sniffing Out Billions In US Currency Smuggled Across the Border To Mexico

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  • by alphatel (1450715) * on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:02PM (#47656035)
    Smells like... Victory
  • They smell like burned fuel.
  • Bitcoins? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:05PM (#47656057) Homepage

    What do bitcoins smell like?

    Despair, irony, and a touch of vermouth.

  • What about the CIA? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:06PM (#47656069)

    We already know the CIA is very much involved in the Mexican drug trade, and I don't mean in the trying-to-stop-it department. Are those billions still going to be allowed to pass through?

    Ah, who am I kidding. Of course they are. Because corrupt government has decided that it can do as it pleases.

    • by mbone (558574)

      The CIA doesn't do borders. They use Andrews Air Force Base for that sort of thing. (Or, at least that's the persistent rumor here in DC.)

  • ...a powerful mycotoxin.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:10PM (#47656115)

    https://www.google.com/search?&q=banks+helping+drug+cartels

    Banks Launder Billions of Illegal Cartel Money While ...
    www.huffingtonpost.com/.../banks-cartel-money-lau...
    The Huffington Post
    Jan 17, 2014 - The hypocrisy of the role that banks play in the drug trade is ... power is that well-known and popular banks are supporting their finances.

    Awash In Cash, Drug Cartels Rely On Big Banks To ... - NPR
    www.npr.org/.../awash-in-cash-drug-cartels-rely-on-big-banks-to-la...
    NPR
    Mar 20, 2014 - The multi-national bank was heavily penalized several years ago for permitting huge transfers of drug cartel money between Mexico and the ...

    How Bankers Help Drug Traffickers and Terrorists ...
    www.nytimes.com/.../how-bankers-help-drug-traffi...
    The New York Times
    Jan 2, 2013 - The bank also admitted to using various schemes to move hundreds of ... the collaboration between Mexican and Colombian drug cartels and ...

    How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's ...
    www.theguardian.com News World news Drugs trade
    The Guardian
    Apr 2, 2011 - As the violence spread, billions of dollars of cartel cash began to seep ... How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs ..... is prepared to offer significant help to stabilise a new Iraqi government.

    Big Banks Launder Hundreds of Billions of Illegal Drug ...
    www.washingtonsblog.com Politics / World News
    Jan 14, 2014 - After all, they support some ruthless, criminal drug cartels. On the .... not to mention that the medicinal chemicals in MJ greatly help people with ...

    HSBC Judge Approves $1.9B Drug-Money Laundering Accord
    www.bloomberg.com/.../hsbc-judge-approves-1-9b-drug...
    Bloomberg L.P.
    Jul 3, 2013 - The bank, Europe's largest, agreed to pay a $1.25 billion forfeiture and ... Lack of proper controls allowed the Sinaloa drug cartel in Mexico and ...

    Banks Financing Mexico Gangs Admitted in Wells Fargo Deal
    www.bloomberg.com/.../banks-financing-mexico-s-drug...
    Bloomberg L.P.
    Jun 29, 2010 - Drug traffickers used accounts at Bank of America in Oklahoma City to .... letter his efforts had helped the U.S. build its case against Wachovia.

    The Ugly Truth Behind Major Banks Financing Mexico's ...
    elitedaily.com/.../shadowy-role-banks-play-financing-mexicos-drug-cart...
    by Aaron Kaufman - Feb 21, 2014 - Last December, the British bank HSBC agreed to a settlement with the US ... Prosecutors claimed that on some days, drug traffickers would ... Meet The 14-Year-Old Boy Who Helped Legalize Medical Marijuana In New York.

    HSBC accused by Senate of allowing billions in Mexican ...
    www.cbsnews.com/.../hsbc-accused-by-senate-of-allowing-bill...
    CBS News

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Armed with better detectors, border guards will demand a bigger cut from money launderers.

  • There are many published references to the fact that most US $20 bills have traces of cocaine on them... http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH... [cnn.com] So why don't they just use cocaine sniffing dogs (of which, I am sure, they have plenty)?
    • by Minwee (522556)
      They could also skip the dogs and just use out of work A&R execs.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Which, you would think, would solve the problem of import of the cocaine and export of the money.

      Of course, the problem becomes when you suddenly start finding CEOs and politicians jetting off to the Caymans with suitcases full of money they haven't declared.

    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      It would be easier to sniff for a trace amount of something on the thing you're looking for, than to just sniff for the thing itself? Better alert the authorities right away!
    • When bills are put through high speed money sorter/counters, one bill used to snort cocaine can put tiny amounts of cocaine on thousands of other bills.

      Due to the chemical nature of cocaine, it can be detected in immensely small concentrations- far smaller than even the best dog can detect.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Neck beard and a superiority complex

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:15PM (#47656179) Journal
    I only switched to carrying sacks of bills across the border in the dead of night because dealing with those assholes at HSBC when I needed money laundered was too much trouble. I'll be seriously upset if enhanced security means I have to re-open my account with them. They wouldn't even upgrade me to Narcoterrorist Platinum Checking unless I provided proof of having ordered at least 50 grisly killings personally, or qualified for MegaMule Rewards by transporting more than a metric ton of high quality cocaine per quarter...
  • Wont matter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:24PM (#47656261) Homepage

    Problem here is they are not looking for anything that is evidence of a crime. It is legal to carry money over the border up to a certain amount so, the smell of money doesn't actually indicate any crime, and isn't evidence of any crime.

    Sounds like a bunch of bullshit to justify expenditures on cool new technology which will be quickly mothballed after its found to be useless or ruled by the courts to not be justification for extra scrutiny.

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      Think harder. Large pile of bills will have gasses in higher concentration. hundreds or thousands of bills are not normal, they can check out individual cases of those.

      • by TheCarp (96830)

        If it can't tell the difference between $9999 and $10,000 then its not good enough in my book. Then again, I can't think of any good reason to limit the cash people can travel with. However, protecting people from unreasonable search is more important by far than anything they are otherwise triying to do...it is supposed to be, one of their highest priorities!

        • Re:Wont matter (Score:4, Informative)

          by jratcliffe (208809) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:17PM (#47656763)

          There's no limit on how much cash you can carry across the border - you just need to declare it if you have over $10k.

          • by TheCarp (96830)

            Seems the point still remains, if it can't tell the difference between 1 unit less than 10k and 10k or more, then its a useless test; and certainly not specific enough to expose someone to the very real dangers of extra scrutiny.

          • by Zaelath (2588189)

            That's what the TSA agent told me about 5 times while searching my carry on bag on the jet-way while other passengers struggled past and gawked at me. Also that if I didn't declare I had cash in there, they'd seize it.

            Her dog looooooved my bag. Unfortunately it didn't have any money in it, just residual dog from my friend's house.

            So yeah, I just hope this device is more accurate than the pups :)

    • They don't need a reason to do a search or give extra scrutiny at a border crossing. Furthermore, carrying more than $10,000 in cash across the border without reporting it is illegal [cbp.gov].
      • by TheCarp (96830)

        But less than 10k is not illegal and even quite common, as in, you can pretty much expect everyone is carrying some amount. As such, everyone should be expected to be putting off these gasses. So basically....this is just a prop that can be used to justify a search on anyone they want to search but don't want to give the real reason.

    • Re:Wont matter (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mbone (558574) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:39PM (#47656413)

      Problem here is they are not looking for anything that is evidence of a crime. It is legal to carry money over the border up to a certain amount so, the smell of money doesn't actually indicate any crime, and isn't evidence of any crime.

      Won't stop them from seizing it anyway.

    • Or, we could make it not illegal to, you know, carry large wads of cash, deposit huge amounts of money in your bank account, etc.

      Or we could vacuum pack the bills, and fold that up into the money belt or suitcase.

      • It's not illegal to do those things. You just need to do some paperwork.
        • by TheCarp (96830)

          I fully support making it legal to not do the paperwork. In fact, I fully support making it a felony for a border agent to even ask how much money you have on you.

    • Sounds like a bunch of bullshit to justify expenditures on cool new technology which will be quickly mothballed after its found to be useless or ruled by the courts to not be justification for extra scrutiny.

      The scary thing is, that's my best case scenario. Worst case? It's used for witch hunts. We have warrantless spying now, do you think they'll put this down once it's pushed back by a court? Maybe it won't be used in court, but just enough to justify "extra scrutiny" of someone, put them on a watchlist

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:26PM (#47656267)

    The result of the puritanical and hypocritical war on drugs has been countless lives lost, Billions and Billions spent on fruitless efforts and a strengthening of criminal gangs and terrorist groups which aren't shy about using thuggery and corrupting law enforcement and the government in order to make money. People suffer and as long as nobody is committing fraud in what they are selling, then people should be able to buy whatever rat poison they want and do with it what they want. People have a right to their own bodies. When drug use gets out of hand then civil commitment and medical care are what is needed, not police, courts and jails.

    • I agree (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Zeorge (1954266) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:11PM (#47656705)
      But, I don't think this will happen as a billions of dollars of industry, on both sides of the law, has been built. You have the drug cartels used to the market price and then you have the DEA, etc. who are used to the funding provided by the USG. You legalize the drugs and *POOF* goes the market value of the drugs and the funding to the DEA and all the companies that are fed off via contracts. The majority of the money is now going to the local and state governments in the form of taxes like with cigarettes and alcohol.
    • by redeIm (3779401)

      Decriminalization isn't good enough; legalize them.

    • If you did that, where would the NSA get their secret funding, and how much more would we need to increase various enforcement budgets that are largely financed by seized assets?

  • It turned out that the gases are a set of trace chemicals, including aldehydes, furans and organic acids.

    No! Gases are chemicals! Who knew!

  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2012@virtual-estates.net> on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @01:48PM (#47656507) Homepage

    most of it laundered drug money ... What do bitcoins smell like?

    I'm far more concerned, whether the smell of my honestly-earned money is any different from that of the laundered drug proceeds. I suspect, the smell is exactly the same and, should I ever choose to cross the border with substantial cash, these devices will point me out. A major loophole in American (and English) legal system, allows seizure of "suspect" assets [wzzm13.com] even if the person himself can not be arrested.

    Now, why would an honest citizen need to carry his cash with him?.. Oh, well...

    • by TheCarp (96830)

      > Now, why would an honest citizen need to carry his cash with him?.. Oh, well...

      That certainly seems to be the attitude of the aristocracy here. Maybe they should ask the 78 year old German woman who was caught traveling with $40k on her person.

      Thank god these thugs are out there...protecting us from old women who don't trust banks! Just think what might have happened if she hadn't been caught. I, for one, am glad our jack booted border enforcers have no fear of the geriatric maffia. Kudos to them for s

      • Or she could have obeyed the law and filled out the one page form [fincen.gov].
        • by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @03:30PM (#47657389) Homepage

          Actually she did fill out the form. Its just that the number she gave verbally didn't match. I don't know about you, but I consider it unreasonable to expect people to be able to randomly come up with and remember numbers like that since... well I know a lot of humans and evidence shows its something most of us are terrible at....and many people at the age of 78 have particular trouble with.

          And...well...fuck the law. There is no reason for this law, I personally judge it unjust and personally hold that against every person who chooses to continue doing a job that involves enforcing such a law. In my eyes they are the criminals and she is innocent.

        • by mi (197448)

          Or she could have obeyed the law and filled out the one page form

          And there is nothing wrong with mandatory ID-carrying either, is there? "Papers please" much?

          • What? You can't just make some tangentially related comparison without explanation and call that an argument. And yes, you do have to carry ID at a border crossing, and yes, that's okay.
      • by mjwalshe (1680392)
        Traveling to a tax haven like Lichtenstein I bet
    • If you're traveling with more than $10k, you just have to fill out one form declaring it.

      • by mi (197448)

        If you're traveling with more than $10k, you just have to fill out one form declaring it.

        I believe, that requirement — whatever its Constitutionality — applies only to people arriving into the US, not leaving. Indeed, you aren't declaring anything upon leaving — neither the Customs nor Border Patrol have anything to do with passengers departing.

        Also, it was introduced, when $10k meant a lot more money, than it does today. I don't know, when, exactly, but I do remember seeing it on the Cus

        • That's a customs form for people arriving with money. There is a related form for leaving the country. It's the same one you get when withdrawing more than $10k in cash from a bank, or even buying into a blackjack table. It just documents your identity so that if that money ends up as part of a money laundering scheme, the feds can find you.

          • by mi (197448)

            There is a related form for leaving the country.

            I was never asked the question of how much cash I'm carrying. Nor have I ever — in 20+ years of being an American — been made aware of having to declare such sums.

            withdrawing more than $10k in cash from a bank

            What if it is simply my savings — stored in a jar?

            if that money ends up as part of a money laundering scheme, the feds can find you

            That's a good argument to have one's DNA registered — at birth. In case it ever ends up inside a rap

  • Hook up the Food Saver or VacuVita to a bag full of stacked, tied bills. Then put the whole vacuum-packed, heat-sealed bag into your suitcase lining, hidden compartment, or money belt.

    • by swb (14022)

      Are vacuum packages that tight?

      I would have always thought yes -- I have a Food Saver and it works miracles for food storage, especially meat in the freezer. But I could swear I've read that drug dogs smell right through them, even double-bagged, which seems to be kind of weird. I would assume that holding a decent vacuum would prevent anything from escaping.

  • I bet these rank amateurs don't shrink-wrap bales of hundreds onto pallets that then disappear as morning fog, like Bush / Cheney did.
  • I'm predicting a run on vacuum sealers.
  • Just put those sniffers in every HSBC branch. Or better yet, put those sniffers in the HSBC corporate boardroom. The "money laundering" they want to stop is happening at the upper levels of management, and yet, not a single banker will *ever* go to jail for laundering.

    Instead, the bank will pay some measly fine which won't even be 10% of what they made doing the crime. Crime absolutely pays and pays big, assuming you're already a multi-billion-dollar corporation that can buy politicians, buy law enforcement

  • This initiative is sponsored by large US banks. They don't want the competition from foreign banks to have billions in drug money deposits. I wish US companies would repatriate their profits the way drug cartels do. Even though no taxes are paid, at least the money would be spent here.
  • Real Solution (Score:4, Informative)

    by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @02:17PM (#47656767) Homepage Journal

    The real solution, of course, is to legalize marijuana nationally, thus drying up demand for the cartels main cash crop.

    But oh, we can't do that, because it would put so many DEA agents and overpaid government contractors out of work!

    So, they come up with not-even-half-assed solutions that sound good in a press release, and end up being nothing more than yet another tool of citizen subjugation over the long run.

    • by jayveekay (735967)

      But oh, we can't do that, because it would put so many DEA agents and overpaid government contractors out of work!

      Not to mention a large number of private companies that own and operate prisons for the government. For those companies, mo' "criminals" = mo' money.

  • but maybe it's just me.
  • ... napalm in the morning.

  • Step 1. Buy Money Sniffer and position near highway.

    Step 2. Advertise free "crossing guaranteed" inspections.

    Step 3. Distract driver with free WiFi and coffee while source of odor is removed.

    Step 4. Profit!

  • Is that in addition to the 20+ billion in remittance sent over from the US to Mexico??

    http://www.thesocialcontract.c... [thesocialcontract.com]

  • Do Euros smell the same as USD?

  • by jimbolauski (882977) on Tuesday August 12, 2014 @04:46PM (#47657999) Journal
    The drug cartels started using prepaid cards that you can put $10,000 on. A wallet can hold $100,000 and not draw any attention.
  • Just employ strippers as border patrol agents. They have an uncanny ability to sniff out money. They might even get the smugglers to voluntarily turn over some of it.

  • If it smells like Tide and fabric softener, it must be laundered money.

  • And interesting specific yet easy to detect substances
    could be added to money to make it easy to track from
    one place to another. Each of the 12 reserve banks could
    use a unique easy to detect substance....

    One step beyond serial number records... and one step
    beyond ultraviolet and edge stack marks.

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