Science News

The Number's Up for Drug Dealers

Sat, 20th Jul 2002

Part of the show Science of Left Handedness - Chris McManus

What do we associate with drug dealers, apart from drugs of course ? Mobile phones of course ! Mobile phones are an essential accessory for every drug dealer. Along with the dodgy shades and moustache. But according to an article in New Scientist this week, mobile phones may spell doom for drug dealers. It's not because the police can trace calls, but because of the gunk that gets lodged between the keys. Researchers at the University of Bristol analysed 150 handsets to see whether they contained traces of drugs. Nothing more sophisticated that a toothpick was required to dig out deposits around the buttons. 5% of the phones showed traces of heroin, cocaine and ecstasy. Phones belonging to people who handled drugs regularly had traces distributed evenly all over the phone, but those who had "one-off" encounters only had traces of drugs in patches. This wouldn't be enough evidence to convict someone, but mobiles say a lot about a person because they have lots of nooks and crannies.

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