Narcotics Detection – Tools to Use If You Don't Have a Canine

If you travel very often, particularly if crossing the US border into Canada or Mexico, you may have noticed United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents moving between the different vehicles. They will be leading their contraband narcotics detection-trained dog. The agent and his dog are often the first-line of defense in locating illegal substances like heroin, ecstacy, crystal meth, cocaine and marijuana. These dogs can also be trained to locate firearms, fireworks or alcoholic beverages. Many law enforcement agencies also use K-9 units for narcotics detection, but what alternatives are available for agencies that do not have a K-9 unit?

Campbell/Harris Security Equipment Company, also known as CSECO, manufactures a variety of contraband detectors and has since the middle of the 1980s. Nothing will replace a highly trained canine and their handler, but the Buster and other contraband detectors manufactured by CSECO can be used to achieve similar results if the law enforcement agents do not have a K-9 available.

CSECO’s first contraband detector was the Buster K910B density meter. Patrick J. Campbell, founder of CSECO, was asked by the US government to design a contraband detector that would be able to detect contraband through more than one type of surface at a time. With the help of CBP agents who would be using the new tool in the field, CSECO was able to manufacture a tool that quickly alerted agents to contraband including narcotics, currency and other types of contraband. What made the Buster unique was the use of back-scatter technology to detect anomalies quickly.

The Buster contraband detector uses low-intensity gamma radiation. This technology is entirely safe for canines and humans and works by measuring the density of an object. When the Buster is used, and it detects a discrepancy in the object, by either being too low or too high, an alert is given to indicate the discrepancy. The agent or officer knows to inspect this area more closely because chances are contraband is present. The Buster provides both an audible alert as well as a visual alert on its hand-held display.

Anyone driving a vehicle that has produced a ‘hit’ or alert will be moved to secondary inspection. The agent will perform an in-depth scan with the Buster K910B but may also turn to the FV Series Fiberscope, also manufactured by CSECO, which permits agents to inspect areas of a vehicle not normally accessed without dismantling the vehicle. The Fiberscope is made with 16,000 fiber optic strands which produce high-intensity lights that make even the darkest recesses bright. The strands are wrapped with tungsten which enables it to be used inside fuel tanks filled with diesel or gasoline. Since would-be smugglers like to hide objects in the fuel tank, Fiberscope makes it much easier to see what is hidden and then removed by draining the tank to gain access to the packages.

Other areas used to hide contraband are behind the display panels of the vehicle, inside the doors or seats of the vehicle. The Fiberscope, with its two-way articulation and lights, enables agents to see inside these areas with its ocular unit. By adding the optional video display, agents can record their inspection or allow others to see the inspection in real-time.

CSECO understands the CSECO Buster K910B or FV Series Fiberscope will not replace the trained canine and its handler along the borders of the US. Nor would they assume their tools should replace them. However, it is great to have optional technology like the Buster and FV Series Fiberscope to complement these units that work so hard to keep drugs off the streets. They are also an awesome choice for those who fight to remove drugs without the K-9 unit available.

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