Sniffer dogs detect nearly €20 million in drugs last year


Customs sniffer dogs stopped almost €20 million worth of drugs being smuggled by sea, air and post into Ireland last year, it was revealed today.

The hounds helped customs officers bag more than 2,830kg of herbal cannabis, cocaine, heroin and cannabis resin, as well as significant batches of cash and tobacco.

The dogs also stopped would-be users or suppliers sneaking in a punnet of magic mushrooms worth €90 and six hash cakes.

A Revenue Customs spokesman said the animals were a vital element in the war on smugglers.

“They are very, very useful and one of the important tools in the fight against smuggling,” he said.

“We have a number of dogs, drugs dogs, a dog that can sniff out tobacco and we have a dog that can sniff out cash.

“They’ve been very successful.”

There are 12 dogs in total based at airports and sea ports across the state and one at the mail centre in Portlaoise.

Thatcher, Buster and Chip are in Dublin port, Storm and Lulu are based at Dublin airport, Max and Jet in Cork, Toby in Portlaoise, Shadow in Shannon Airport and Mickey in Sligo.

The star recruit, Dillon, is based at Rosslare Europort and was awarded person of the month last October by south-east radio for his drug-busting efforts.

The now four-year-old was recruited by Revenue in 2005 and spent one month training with the RAF in the UK before beginning service at Rosslare Europort, where last year he helped nab narcotics worth €19.1 million.

Dillon has stopped drugs worth €24 million being smuggled into the country since taking up his role, with some in elaborate concealments such as the petrol tank of a car and under the floor of a 40ft container.

In the autumn he featured in the TV series Customs.

His predecessor at Rosslare Europort, Zak, is now retired and at 14-years-old still lives with Denis Lawlor, his handler.

The crime cracking animals, usually springer spaniels, setters or labradors, stay in operation for up to seven years and then retire to a life of peace and quiet with their customs handlers.