No matter how far technology goes, you can’t beat instinct especially if it belongs to an 11-month-old canine fresh out of a training camp. On Tuesday, Airport Customs nabbed a drug-smuggler, when one of their dogs sniffed out the presence of drugs worth Rs 3.2 crore from a female air-traveller.
As per routine, the canine and human members of the dog squad were doing an early-morning round along the airport concourse, the baggage area and shops in and around the International terminal of the Mumbai Airport.
One of the dogs in the squad was the 11-month old Labrador, Anny. Around 4 am, Anny sniffed something that made her sit up and take note. In seconds, she was running towards a woman in the airport. Anny, who was only recently trained, started dragging her handler with such force that he fell, revealed a Customs official.
The woman on Anny’s radar – later identified as Thalitha Mosiga Potgieter (33) was carrying a South African Passport, and had alighted from the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET-611 that had landed in Mumbai via Delhi. Alerted by the enthusiastic dog, the officials began conducting checks on her. On the basis of the signal received from the dog, the squad members apprehended her.
“We recovered 16 kg of Ephedrine drug worth Rs 3.2 crore,” said the official. The drug is found in energy boosters. Ephedrine’s action is similar to that of adrenaline, with a prolonged effect and it is said to boost user’s energy levels and heighten his or her mood.
The drugs were concealed inside cardboard boxes and wrapped in embroidery lace. She is said to have been holding this package when the incident occurred. Sources said that the boxes were wrapped up so well that they would never have appeared suspicious to the officers, had it not been for Anny’s well-trained sense of smell.
Officers showered praises on Anny for the haul, even as they took credit for beefing up security to better nab peddlers who might be trying to sneak drugs into the city, as year-ending festivities begin. Anny was recruited to the team only two months ago, and this was her first ‘catch’. She was trained for nearly three months at the Border Security Force (BSF) camp in Tekanpur, near Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh before being brought to Mumbai.
How they operate
The dogs are trained to be on high alert for sensitive flights, especially those coming in late at night, when drug smuggling is more frequent. These are mostly flights coming from South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania which land in the wee hours. The dogs are given a specific and strict diet of freshly prepared meat, good dog food, eggs and milk.
They are given sufficient rest and kept in kennels in their dog quarters at Five Gardens near King’s Circle. The dogs are trained specifically to sniff out drugs even if they are camouflaged or hidden among meat, chocolates and other edible stuff. Their handlers too are trained to understand the pattern of their barks. Anny’s predecessor Dolly had an outstanding track record, and caught drugs worth over Rs 200 crore for the Customs team.
National Training Centre For Dogs (NTCD), Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh
The National Training Centre for Dogs (NTCD) is a premier training institution run by BSF on behalf of MHA. The NTCD breeds service dogs, trains them and their handlers for BSF, other Central Police organisations and state police organisations. The dogs are trained in basic obedience, narcotics and explosive detection, tracking, guard duties and patrolling. The dogs trained by NTCD have an enviable record of service. These are a few of them:
HERO a product of NTCD, ensured a seizure of more than Rs 100 crore for Bombay Customs.
SONU another product of NTCD, effected a seizure of high-grade hashish worth Rs 2.2 crore in 1997 at Delhi Airport.
SUKKA seized 14 kg of high-grade hashish valued at Rs 1.40 crore for Delhi Customs.
FANTA was instrumental in detecting 10 kg of RDX during Amarnath Yatra in 1993, thus averting what could have led to a major tragedy.
- Source: bsf.nic.in
The number of Labradors with the Airport Customs, who sniff out drugs, contraband and narcotics
The duration of each shift for a dog