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False Arrests From Flawed Cocaine Detection Kit: the NIK 6500 is Bad News for Texas

Cocaine possession is a serious felony and law enforcement in North Texas takes this crime very seriously.  In the past, it took awhile for police to charge someone officially with having cocaine because it took some time for the lab to verify that the white powder taken into evidence was indeed an illegal, controlled substance.

Now, impatient to get drug test results, local area police are using in-the-field testing to back up drug arrests.  Problem is: false positives are the result of untrustworthy tests and wrongful arrests are happening.

Remember the Fake Drug Scandal Here in Dallas?

Innocent people being arrested on false drug tests here isn’t new.  A few years back, Dallas County was scandalized by a big, national news story about how innocent folk were being jailed on fake drug charges by the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office.  (I remember this well, since back then I worked in their Organized Crime Division.)

What was happening was this:  the DA would hold a defendant in jail — and even indict them — with bothering to have a valid lab report to confirm that any illegal substance was involved in the case.   It was not unusual for these people to sit in jail for several months before there was any lab report.

Talk about unfair and life-changing.  Indictments mean criminal histories; months in jail mean changes in employment, school, relationships.  Still, it took a lot for this procedure to be fixed.

Part of the change happened after fake drug cases were exposed and officers like Dallas Police Department Detective Mark Delapaz were revealed to be using dirty snitches to set up innocent defendants with fake dope (I testified against Delapaz, so I have personal knowledge about how dirty some cops can be.)  For more on the Dallas fake drug scandal, check out the April 2002 article in Texas Monthly by Skip Hollingsworth covering the case, “Snow Job.”

Over 80 drug cases ended up being dismissed and the Dallas Police Chief got fired as a result.  Over two dozen victims of the fake drug charges sued for federal civil rights violations (and won).

Today, the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office police is not to indict someone on a drug crime charge until they have a valid lab report to support the allegation.  That lab report can take up to 3 months (90 days) to complete.  Which means that local law enforcement here in North Texas is enchanted with new technologies that can cut that testing time down for them.

Today’s Technology Advances In Drug Testing

Today, as technology advances, manufacturers are consistently trying to find ways to cut that lab testing time and get drug test results done much faster.  Police, of course, would like to be able to confirm if they’ve found cocaine (or other illegal drugs) immediately, out in the field.  So, more and more companies are selling new kinds of things — like swabs and wipes — that are promoted to be able to reveal illegal substances of all kinds within just a few seconds.  And (even better!) they can be used by the police officer out in the streets fighting crime.

And here’s where my story begins.

Recently, one of my clients was arrested in a town near to the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex after the police officer found a white powdery substance in his car.

Field Test Using Cocaine Detection Wipe Leads to Wrongful Arrest

Now, my client was a convicted felon, and his criminal history was easy enough to check via the police databases. However, anyone might be in the position he was in: pulled over in a traffic stop in Carrollton, could a police officer ever see a suspicious white powder on your car seat or dashboard?

In my client’s case, when that white powder was spotted by the officer, the officer suspected cocaine.  So he used a drug detection product called a NIK 6500 cocaine detection wipe.

With the NIK 6500, the officer can wipe any surface (like your car seat) and then if the NIK changes color, it is testing positive for cocaine.

These kinds of drug detection materials are used by law enforcement all over the country. You can buy them off Amazon.com (check them out here).  Thing is, the results are only as good as the reliability of the testing product. If the NIK 6500 gives a bogus false positive, then wrongs can happen.

They happened to my client. They could happen to you, too. Ever had white powder in your car? Baby powder; detergent; facial powder; athlete’s foot powder spilling out of your gym bag?

In my story, the lab result that double checked that field test revealed that my client had NO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE in his vehicle. The powder was not cocaine. The NIK 6500 wipe was WRONG.

Serious Life Consequences Result From Flawed Cocaine Wipe Product

Sad thing is, by this time my client had experienced the following:

1. in jail for 10 days because he was on parole;
2. He had to spend $5,000 to get out of jail on a bail bond;
3. He lost his job during all this;
4. He had to hire a lawyer and fight all this injustice — when he was totally innocent of wrongdoing here.

Bottom line, the NIK 6500 is bad news. There’s been a lot of reports about false arrests due to this type of field detection kit. Beware!!!

Watch Me: NIK Wipe Tests Walgreen’s Sleeping Pill as Positive for Cocaine

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not suggesting that police officers are out there acting maliciously like Detective Mark Delapaz with his dirty snitch schemes.  However, I do see a pattern forming here in Texas indicating that the system is broken.   From my perspective, NO police department should arrest anyone until the lab report comes back. Cases can be filed “at large”. This means the case gets filed later:  after a proper investigation has take place.  Only then should a warrant be issued for the arrest of an accused.  This is going to be more and more of a problem for the police due to the sharp rise in synthetic marijuana.  Although police have some limited field test kits for synthetic substances, they can’t possibly keep up with the ever changing chemical structures being developed and imported from China.  The only way to really know for sure is a proper gas mass spectrometer lab test result.

Bottom line, these new drug testing gizmos simply aren’t worthy of taking away someone’s freedom and injuring their reputations and even their lives because they aren’t reliable.  Fake positives hurt people.

Want proof?  Check out how I test a sleeping aid sold at a local drug store with a NIK wipe and get a false positive for cocaine.  Easy peasy (after I got that pill broken down into a powder, that was troublesome!). Watch my video:

NIK 6500 Cocaine False Positive Diphenhydramine from DallasJustice.com on Vimeo.

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