Mexico: Drug-detecting device’s effectiveness in question
Read the whole article here.
There are opposite explanations as to why El Paso native Shohn Huckabee has been sitting in a Juárez prison since 2009 — both revolve around an electronic wand used worldwide to detect contraband.
The Mexican army claims soldiers stopped Huckabee in Juárez and scanned his vehicle with a molecular detector GT200, a device that has been heavily used by authorities throughout the country since 2008. Huckabee was arrested after the device tested positive for marijuana.
But Huckabee said he was detained, tortured and loaded with drugs that did not belong to him — an accusation that has become all-too common throughout Mexico since soldiers and federal forces were deployed en masse to fight organized crime.
The courts agreed with the army. Huckabee, 24, was found guilty and eventually lost two appeals. His family is now looking to commute his sentence to a federal prison in the United States.
There is just one problem: the GT200 may be a hoax.
“It is impossible for the device to work as they say it does, or in any other way,” said Luis Mochán, a physics professor with the National Autonomous University of Mexico.
For the last several years Mexican federal and state authorities have spent millions of dollars in purchasing GT200 molecular detectors and have praised the devices as invaluable tools in their searches for drugs and weapons.
However, scientists in Mexico and around the globe have denounced the GT200 as nothing more than a magic wand.
The British government — which actively promoted the GT200 between 2001 and 2005 to other countries, including the Philippines and Mexico — informed its Mexican counterpart last year about its concerns regarding the device’s effectiveness, according to the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation & Skills.
Nevertheless, Mexican officers have continued to use it. Many Mexican scientists, politicians and human rights defenders say the results have been disastrous.
I didn’t realize this bogus device was the basis of Shohn Huckabee’s conviction. That’s awful.
Here is a (much shorter) blog post about the device.
Mexico’s army and pseudo-science
I wrote on this blog more than a year ago about the bizarre reliance of the Mexican army on the GT200 ‘molecular detector,’ a virtual dowsing rod that is said to detect everything from drugs and explosives to weapons and money.
This week, more has come out _ and it ain’t pretty. If there’s a time for the Mexican army to cast aside machismo and demonstrate that it can admit a mistake, this might be it.
A respected physicist at Mexico’s largest university, Luis Mochan Backal, has come out with this lengthy and damning Spanish-language analysis of the GT200 device made by the British firm Global Technical Ltd.
It turns out that the National Defense Secretariat has bought 940 of the molecular detectors at a cost of about $28,000 each, for a total of nearly $26.3 million. I took the above video at an army roadblock in Michoacan state. The soldiers seemed surprised that I laughed when they conducted the demonstration.
Here’s the video: