This TARP is not the “Troubled Asset Relief Program” of the recent economic crisis although it may indicate that someone in Federal law enforcement has a wicked sense of humor. This TARP is an acronym for “Truck, Air, Rail and Port.” It is a drug interdiction task force that operates in Houston and part of their mission appears to be relieving travelers of their assets and by that I mean cash. The rationale is that travelers carrying cash are likely to be involved in either money laundering, drug trafficking or both.
While it still is not illegal in the U.S.of A. to carry and travel with cash, if a traveler falls under the scrutiny of this TARP and a dog trained in detecting narcotics alerts on their cash, that cash is probably going to be seized and the traveler is likely to be arrested.
This led me to begin research into something I had heard years ago: that most of the cash in circulation in this country will cause a narcotics K-9 to alert for the presence of…narcotics.
An interesting short article can be found at the website of the American Society of Canine Trainers, http://www.asctk9.org/id54.html
The actual extent to which currency in circulation is contaminated with narcotics is a contentious issue. What follows are short excerpts from some of the cases cited in the article by expert canine handler Terry Fleck.
“Conclusions of a DEA report found that one-third of bills in random sample were contaminated with cocaine.” United States v Saccoccia, 58 F. 3d 754 (1995) First Circuit.
“Even the government admits that no one can place much stock in the results of dog sniffs on currency because at least one-third of the currency in the United States is contaminated with cocaine. Therefore, the court is unwilling to take seriously the evidence of the post-seizure dog sniff.” United States v $506,231 U.S. Currency, 125 F. 3d 442 (1997) Seventh Circuit.
“The suspect presented evidence that over 75% of the currency in the area was contaminated with the residue of cocaine and the government presented no other evidence connecting the money to drugs.” United States v $30,060 U.S. Currency , 39 F. 3d 1039 (1994) Ninth Circuit,
Stay tuned. This investigation continues.