Dogs as drug mules

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2006:

Among the grimmest indicators of the
rising value of puppies is the increasing use of
their bodies as live containers for smuggled
illegal drugs–a dodge that can only work if the
animals are in sufficient demand at high prices
that import inspectors are not surprised to see
them in transit.
Such a case shocked France in early May
after the remains of 15 dogs were found among the
trash left after the annual Teknikval rave music
festival at Chavanne, near Bourges. “Most of
the animals had their bellies cut open,”
reported John Lichfield of The Independent. “The
Société Protectrice des Animaux for the
département of Cher said that it hoped to trace
the owners of the dead dogs and investigate the
deaths.”

“Some of the dogs were tattooed with
official identification numbers,” an SPA
investigator told Lichfield. “We are going to
track down the owners and bring prosecutions
against them.”
Wrote Lichfield, “Cases of dogs being
made to swallow packages of drugs have also been
reported in South America, Belgium and the
Netherlands. This is the first case of its kind
in France.”
John P. Gillbridge, New York City field
division chief for the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Agency, testified in Brooklyn on February 1,
2006 that an early 2005 raid on a farm near
Medellin, Columbia, rescued 10 purebred puppies
from a makeshift veterinary clinic. Six had
already had about a pound of liquid heroin apiece
surgically implanted in their bellies. Three of
the six later died from infected surgical wounds.
The other puppies were awaiting the operation.
While the use of dogs as “drug mules” is
relatively new, humans have long transported
smuggled drugs in ingested plastic bags or hidden
in body cavities, and have sometimes died of
overdoses from leaking drug residues.
A safer tactic, traffickers discovered
decades ago, was to induce exotic cats, snakes,
and other potentially dangerous animals to ingest
plastic bags of contraband. The animals would
typically pass through border checkpoints without
close physical examination, and the bags could
be collected later from their feces.
Larger amounts of drugs could be
surgically implanted in the animals, and then be
surgically removed, but this is believed to have
been done less, because surgical scars tended to
give away the procedure.
The exotic pet import business and the
transborder drug traffic expanded rapidly
together from the 1960s to the 1990s. Among the
best known traffickers known to have moved both
animals and drugs were reputed Medellin cocaine
king Pablo Escobar, killed in a 1994 shootout
with police, and Mario Tabraue, of Miami, who
in 1989 drew a sentence of 100 years in prison
for allegedly dismembering and burning the
remains of former federal informant Larry Vance
Nash. Nash was allegedly killed by Tabraue
associate Miguel A. Ramirez in 1980.
Both Tabraue and Ramirez won early release from
prison by testifying against other drug dealers.
After his release, Tabraue returned to operating
his animal importing firm, Zoological Imports in
Miami

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