Source: BBC News
Date: 28 January 2005

Colombia dog chief held for drugs

The head of the sniffer dog unit at Bogota international airport has been arrested in raids against a drug ring run by an ex-Colombian police chief.

Drugs police believe Freddy Castro was paid to tip off smugglers when his dogs were taking breaks.

Sixteen other suspects were held as police moved against a network headed by retired police Col Lionel Mendoza, who was arrested in December.

Colombia is the world's biggest cocaine producer and a major heroin supplier.

Bogota airport boasts one of the tightest security systems in the world and has developed a net aimed at snaring drugs that leave by plane, the BBC's Jeremy McDermott in Colombia reports.

Yet it seems that the drug smuggling ring just broken up found a chink in the armour by enrolling the head of the canine unit, our correspondent adds.

Detectives believed that Mr Castro alerted drug smugglers about the times that sniffer dogs were tired or were scheduled to take breaks.


Colombian drugs police moved against the suspected smuggling ring at Bogota international airport in conjunction with US authorities.

Ten of the 17 suspects arrested on Thursday were held in the US, with the remaining seven seized in Colombia.

Col Mendoza is being held in a central Colombian jail awaiting extradition charges to the US.

His case was the latest in a string of corruption scandals to hit Colombia's police force in the past few years.

Recent high-profile cases include the disappearance of three tonnes of cocaine seized by police and the arrest of the head of Colombia's highway patrol on drug trafficking charges.

Legal co-operation between Colombia and the US against drug gangs has increased since the signing in 2002 of a legal extradition treaty between the two nations.

Smaller drug trafficking organisations have flourished in Colombia since operations to dismantle the huge cartels that controlled the drug trade during the 1990s.

see also
Drug War
Cocaine, Inc
Pablo Escobar
George W. Bush
Bolivian cocaine
Mexican cocaine
The Coke-father
Colombian cocaine
Cali cocaine kingpins
Benjamin Arellano Felix
Sniffer dogs with nice-smelling noses

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Cocaine Resources
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Colombia, Narcoterrorism and the AngloAmerican Drug War

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