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Australian Federal Police Use Gold to Track Criminals

The Australian Federal Police has revealed the surprising role gold is playing in helping law enforcement identify and track down alleged criminals.

AFP Forensic Teams are using precious metals such as gold and silver in an evidence recovery technique that can develop fingerprints. The powerful technique, known as Vacuum Metal Deposition (VMD), was responsible for detecting dozens of fingerprints. Never before has evidence is being lifted from cash, plastics, glass, mobile phones, firearms and other weapons.

In a massive breakthrough, alleged criminals have been identified from seizures of Australian currency as part of Operation Ironside.

New Vacuum Metal Deposition Technique

VMD techqniue involves the thermal evaporation of metals, primarily gold or silver and zinc, inside a custom-built chamber. The technique causes these metals to form thin films under controlled high vacuum conditions. During this process, ‘invisible’ fingerprints develop.

AFP Forensic Coordinator Dr Nathan Scudder said the evidence recovery technique using gold had delivered significant results. Multiple AFP investigations part of Operation Ironside have reaped the benefits.

Banknotes undergo specialist fingerprint development in a purpose built machine Photo Australian Federal Police

“The AFP’s Forensic Team played a significant role in Operation Ironside thanks to our elite evidence recovery techniques.

We used VMD to process more than twenty alleged illicit cash seizures, totalling thousands of dollars, as part of Operation Ironside – Dr Scudder

“These banknotes were sent to our Majura Forensic Facility to undergo specialist fingerprint development in a purpose-built machine,” he said.

Dr Scudder said the capabilities of AFP Forensics were continuously evolving, allowing investigators to locate previously undetected evidence.

“This is an extremely powerful and sensitive process where precious metals such as gold can actually enhance the fingerprints of individuals that have touched the exhibits, such as banknotes,” Dr Scudder said.

Vacuum metal deposition used by australian federal police
Vacuum Metal Deposition VMD was responsible for the detection of dozens of fingerprints some of which were identified to alleged criminals on seizures of Australian currency as part of Operation Ironside Photo Australian Federal Police

More Evidence Available

Suddenly, evidence that was not visible before has been miraculously recovered, thanks to this capability – Dr Scudder

The AFP used the VMD technique to conduct evidence recovery from cash seizures from multiple investigations linked to Operation Ironside.

Special operation Ironside charged more than one hundred organised crime members. Encrypted communications which organised crime use exclusively are now visible to AFP.

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