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Universality of Cocaine-Tainted Cash Means Presence of Cocaine on Cash in Your Wallet Is Not Probable Cause


July 1993

Cash containing measurable traces of cocaine is now so widespread that U.S. courts are increasingly rejecting cocaine-tainted paper money as evidence that the owner of that money was involved in drug activity (Arthur Hayes, "Cocaine-Tainted Cash Faulted As Evidence," Wall Street Journal, 6/2/93, B6). In the last 18 months, two federal appeals courts have expressed strong skepticism of the government's use of cocaine-tainted cash as evidence. And a federal trial judge ruled in April that the mere presence of cocaine traces does not provide law enforcement with probable cause to search for drugs or confiscate the cash.