Customs' new recruits to sniff out narcotics

Customs' new recruits to sniff out narcotics

A file photo of the police dog squad at a parade. DH photoAfter assessing a series of recent seizures, the Bangalore branch of the Customs department has approached the City Police to recruit two sniffer dogs.

The latest on the rolls of Bangalore Customs, according to well-placed sources, are “two German Shepherd sniffer dogs roped in to assist the Air Intelligence Unit (AIU) at the Bengaluru International Airport”.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, sources said it has been about three weeks since the canines began working with the AIU and that “the process is on to create a dog squad of our (Customs) own in the coming months”. The primary objective of the dog squad, for now, will be to check smuggling of narcotics into and out of  Bangalore through the airport.

“Once we have our own squad with trainers training them according to our needs, the scope will be expanded to detect other goods too,” sources added.

The most smuggled drugs through Bangalore include heroin, hashish, marijuana and ketamine. It is noteworthy that the Air Intelligence Unit had in April seized heroin, which it claimed was worth Rs 2.5 crore in the international market.

A senior official, who had recently seen dog squads in Washington, DC, trained to sniff and detect fake currency, is upbeat on the inclusion of such dogs into the squad given that the the City is slowly becoming a hub for counterfeit currency.

“The dogs will move around the departure halls, lounge, conveyor belts besides the Customs counters along with the dog handlers. They will also be taken to the tarmac area of the airport to sniff packages loaded inside the containers.”

Also, passengers considered to be suspects and sensitive flights operating in smuggling-prone routes will go through strict checking, if the Customs feels the need, on a random basis or sometimes based on concrete intelligence.

National Customs Dog Squad proposed

The Customs Commissioner (Logistics), based in Delhi, in consultation with other Chief Commissioners (Customs) is working on establishing a National Customs Dog Squad Centre that will be responsible for sourcing and training dogs.

The Centre will help establish dog squads in all important Customs centres in the country, making them more efficient in detecting  smuggled goods, especially narcotics.

While the discussions are at a nascent stage, senior officials, who met in the City on Monday and Tuesday, are said to have expressed keen interest in having dog squads, as cases of smuggling are on the rise.

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