International Drug Traffickers Continue to Use Dogs as MulesPublished March 21, 2013
In early December of 1994, an Old English Sheepdog was shipped to New York’s JFK Airport from Colombia with five pounds of cocaine surgically implanted in her stomach. Like in the movie Maria Full of Grace (2004), the dog (eventually nicknamed Coke) experienced a few trials and tribulations before settling down into a new life in New York City. Unfortunately, these days, dogs used as drug mules have not been so lucky.
Earlier in the week, the Italian police arrested 75 people from across northern Italy and Rome for international drug trafficking. According to the ANSA, the Italian news agency, the suspects are members of a gang with ties to South American drug cartels. The gang used large dogs, such as Great Danes, Labradors and Mastiffs, as drug mules, force-feeding them bags of cocaine (weighing up to 2.8 pounds) and then later cutting open their stomachs to extract the drugs. Authorities note that suspects have killed at least 50 dogs in the course of their drug operation.
This abusive practice, of course, can result in fatal results for the unfortunate dogs involved. According to Steve Weinstein, DVM of the Howard Beach Animal Clinic in Jamaica, New York that treated Coke, “the dog was surgically implanted with the drugs in her abdomen which meant that if she hadn’t gotten sick, due the unsterilized balloons which caused an infections, they could have stayed with her forever.” Weinstein who had a small practice near the airport at the time and treated the bomb, drug and port authority dogs explained that hundreds of dogs pass through that airport every year and that the reason that he was asked to treat this particular dog was because a Customs Agent spotted the failing dog upon her arrival in the U.S.
“Great care went into the operation surrounding her because the drug traffickers waited at least 10 days until her incision healed before shipping her out. “
But the Italian dogs did not have handlers who went to such great care.
“If the dogs ingested the balloons of drugs, they would have to be shipped out immediately because the stomach acids would start to break down any wrappings covering the drugs,” said Dr. Weinstein. “It is doubtful that they could have passed the drugs.”
This is incident of animal abuse and many more like it will continue to go on, unless suspicious activity is reported. If you suspect something, please say something.