Makers of the Quadro Tracker® Are Indicted, Some Still Have Faith
Quadro Corp. of Harleyville, S.C., the makers of the Quadro Tracker® detection device, were indicted on August 21 by a federal grand jury in Beaumont, Texas (Associated Press, "Detection Device Makers Indicted," Washington Post, August 23, 1996, p. A19; Matthew Ebnet, "Creator of 'tracker' indicted," Kansas City Star, August 23, 1996, p. C1). For more information about the Quadro Tracker®, see the March 1996 issue and February 1996 issue of NewsBriefs.
Quadro Corp. and four of its officials were charged with mail fraud and conspiracy to commit mail fraud for devices sold between March 1993 and January 1996. U.S. Attorney Mike Bradford said the company defrauded government agencies, jeopardized legitimate investigations and violated the constitutional rights of innocent people. If convicted, the defendants could each face up to five years in prison and a $1 million fine per count.
According to the indictment, the company marketed the Quadro Positive Molecular Locator as a detection device that used a "chip" to sense molecular emissions of anything from illicit drugs to explosives. Scientific analysis revealed that the device is simply a hollow box with a radio antenna attached and the "chip" is a piece of paper between two pieces of plastic. Quadro has sold about 1,000 of the devices at prices from $395 to $8,000 to school districts, law enforcement and airports.
In April, U.S. District Judge Thad Heartfield, citing the fraudulent nature of the device and its potential for civil rights violations, permanently barred Quadro Corporation from making or selling the device. Timothy Kulp, a Charleston, SC attorney representing the company, said that the company is appealing the injunction. Kulp said the device doesn't operate on "traditional scientific theories" and suggested the indictment has been filed by the government in order to keep the technology secret.
Despite the evidence that the gizmo is a total fraud, some of its users still have faith in the tracker's abilities. "I haven't given up on the device," said John Betzer, the campus officer at Blue Valley Northwest [H.S.] in Beaumont, TX, which paid about $950 for the device. "I don't believe the skeptics -- the scientists or the FBI. It may not work on the exact principles that the company says it does, but it still has some merits," added Betzer. Mike Thomas, safety coordinator at Blue Valley, uses the device as a deterrent for students and remains convinced that it effectively uncovers drugs and gunpowder. "I did it myself," said Thomas. "I found hidden shotgun shells." (Samantha Liskow, "No Drugs Here," Kansas City Star, July 2, 1996, TEEN Section, p.1)