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Gone to the Dogs

Chicago’s international anti-drug efforts have officially gone to the dogs.

With the airlines drawing people from so many different places around the world, it is not uncommon for Chicago’s finest to locate individuals attempting to sneak through security with some extra special baggage. At the nearby mail facility, our fine fighters in the battle to keep illegal drugs from entering our country used man’s best friend to uncover a large shipment earlier this month.

Shadow, a Belgian Malinois that is trained as a drug dog, was working at O’Hare Mail Facility earlier this month when he tracked down $500,000 worth of opiates during a routine walk through the international mail facility. The opiates were spread throughout several states-bound packages, and drove old Shadow wild with excitement.

Dogs used for drug searches are trained to respond to one or more of the most common drugs. Their training triggers an excited response to the mere smell of the drug. This is in contrast with dogs trained on explosives, which must sit still upon encountering their target (for safety reasons). And with the superior sniffing abilities of breeds like Shadow’s, smelling the stuff mixed in among the four packages shipped from Laos is not difficult.

Like previous packages, the opiates were mixed in among other material. Due to the nature of the drug, natural items such as twigs, mulch, or leaves can be easily laced with the drug. When burned, the smoke releases a chemical that, when inhaled, gets into the bloodstream and enables the brain to block pain. Users describe the effect as a feeling of bliss, or complete nothingness, rendering the drug very addictive.

This is not the first time the dogs have been called in to monitor shipments. The mailroom dogs have uncovered incoming opiates on a number of occasions. Shadow’s sniffing buddy and predecessor, Rambo, has been discovering opium shipments bound for Minnesota since 2009, and has been featured in a few web articles that can be found here.

The Chicago Customs and Border Protection officials will be destroying the 30 pounds of materials discovered in the Minnesota and Wisconsin-bound packages.

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