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Dogs to sniff luggage, travellers

By Nalinee Seelal Saturday, January 25 2014

Dogs are to be used to sniff luggage and even travellers at airports for illegal drugs as the Ministry of National Security embarks on a drive to wipe out drug smuggling in the country.

Minister of National Security Gary Griffith yesterday said the new measure will take effect soon at Piarco and Crown Point International Airports. Griffith said he has ordered an audit into the canine units of the protective services to determine how many dogs are available, how many are suitable for use, how many need to be retrained and how many could be put to use and in which areas.

His plan even includes placing more dogs in the Prisons Service to detect drugs, weapons and cellphones smuggled into prisons.

Griffith said there are dogs which are trained to detect not only drugs but weapons and cellphones, even if they are hidden in “peculiar places”.

He said there are plans to purchase additional dogs from the United Kingdom and the United States (US) and to set up breeding centres and new facilities for the dogs. The move is part of measures to heighten security at airports and seaports following the discovery that $640 million in cocaine was smuggled into the US in a container shipped from Trinidad. The cocaine was hidden in juice tins.

Senior Superintendent Irwin Hackshaw, head of the Mounted and K-9 Branch of TT Police Service (TTPS), welcomed Griffith’s decision to purchase additional dogs and to improve facilities for breeding and training.

Newsday understands the K-9 Branch has about 90 dogs which are used at the airports, seaports and by other units of the TTPS. However, due to escalating crime, a recommendation was made to use dogs more in raids, at road blocks and during security operations at the ports of entry.

There is to be special training for handlers and recruits in the Police Service.

Prisons officers also said sniffer dogs placed at prisons will help to prevent smuggling of drugs and other illegal items.

Prisons Commissioner Martin Martinez yesterday said the canine section in the prisons is in dire need of additional dogs and he awaits the purchase of more to strengthen the unit.

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