Detection of smuggled cocaine in cargo using MDCT

Grabherr, Silke; Ross, Steffen; Regenscheit, Priska; Werner, Bernhard; Oesterhelweg, Lars; Bolliger, Stephan; Thali, Michael J (2008). Detection of smuggled cocaine in cargo using MDCT. AJR, American journal of roentgenology, 190(5), pp. 1390-5. Leesburg, Va.: American Roentgen Ray Society 10.2214/AJR.07.3048

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OBJECTIVE: Smuggling dissolved drugs, especially cocaine, in bottled liquids is an ongoing problem at borders. Common fluoroscopy of packages at the border cannot detect contaminated liquids. The objective of our study was to develop an MDCT screening method to detect cocaine-containing vessels that are hidden between uncontaminated ones in a shipment. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Studies were performed on three wine bottles containing cocaine solutions that were confiscated at the Swiss border. Reference values were obtained by scans of different sorts of commercially available wine and aqueous solutions of dissolved sugar. All bottles were scanned using MDCT, and data evaluation was performed by measuring the mean peak of Hounsfield units. To verify the method, simulated testing was performed. RESULTS: Using measurements of the mean peak of Hounsfield units enables the detection of dissolved cocaine in wine bottles in a noninvasive and rapid fashion. Increasing opacity corresponds well with the concentration of dissolved cocaine. Simulated testing showed that it is possible to distinguish between cocaine-contaminated and uncontaminated wine bottles. CONCLUSION: The described method is an efficacious screening method to detect cocaine-contaminated bottles that are hidden between untreated bottles in cargo. The noninvasive examination of cargo allows a questionable delivery to be tracked without arousing the suspicion of the smugglers.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Forensic Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine
04 Faculty of Medicine > Service Sector > Institute of Legal Medicine > Forensic Imaging

UniBE Contributor:

Ross, Steffen, Bolliger, Stephan, Thali, Michael






American Roentgen Ray Society


Factscience Import

Date Deposited:

04 Oct 2013 15:04

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 14:19

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URI: (FactScience: 113784)

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