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November 14, 2006
Crystal Meth Destabilizing The Euro ... Literally

Investigators have puzzled over a strange new phenomenon -- the increasing disintegration of Euro notes. A chemical analysis of the bills suggests sulfuric salts have combined with human perspiration, and German authorities believe they know the source of the chemical:

Criminal investigators are following a new lead that could resolve the recent mystery of the disintegrating euro bills. And it may lead directly into the crystal meth lab.

Complaints of the mysteriously dissolving euro notes began accumulating in late October. An initial investigation revealed that "the destroyed bank notes came in contact with sulfuric acid, which led to the observed disintegration," the mass-circulation Bild newspaper reported on November 2. It is believed that the bills were somehow coated with a sulfur salt, which would have formed a potent acid in combination with perspiration from a person's hands, causing the bills to decompose.

But where did the sulfuric acid come from? In a recent twist, chemists are now speculating that it may have come from an impure batch of the synthetic drug crystal methamphetamine, also known as "crystal meth."

The sulfuric salt, according to the analysts, comes from an impure process. Chemists use the salts to "cut" the meth, making it less pure but cheaper to produce. The resulting mixture leaves the impurities on the notes when the users snort the crystals through them, and subsequent handling causes the chemical reaction that destroys the bills.

Not everyone buys into that theory. Some aren't even sure that sulfates cause the erosion they have seen on the bills. However, German authorities believe it to be true, as it correlates to a recent upsurge in the use of crystal meth on the Continent. No one has come up with a competing theory, at least according to Der Spiegel.

Wouldn't investigators expect to see disintegrating noses at some point?

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 14, 2006 5:00 AM

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