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Sunday 23 October 2016

Smugglers' plans to sneak €80k of drugs in mail foiled by Stella the sniffer dog

Alan O'Keeffe

Published 15/05/2015 | 10:18

Stella the sniffer dog
Stella the sniffer dog

A plot to smuggle €80,000 worth of cannabis through the postal system was sniffed out by customs hound Stella.

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The black crossbred foiled an attempt to post the illegal drugs to an address in South Dublin from a location in West Africa.

Stella’s super-sensitive nose allowed her to give her handler a positive reaction when she detected four kilos of herbal cannabis in a parcel at the Portlaoise Mail Centre.

Following routine profiling, the parcel was among a number of items that customs officials decided should be checked out by Stella at the busy mail sorting centre on Wednesday.

A Revenue spokeswoman said “investigations are

ongoing” into the drugs find.

Stella is a member of the Revenue’s canine programme, which was set up in 2001 as a result of the Customs National Drugs Team Review.

The dogs help in the detection of drugs and other contraband goods entering or leaving the country.

The four-legged customs ‘officers’ have helped to seize considerable amounts of drugs and smuggled tobacco, as well as sniffing out concealed wads of banknotes.

Revenue has anti-smuggling teams at all main ports and airports and at the main postal depot in Portlaoise, and the detection dogs work in tandem with them.

“All of our dogs are trained to be ‘multi-purpose’ – that is to say, they’ve been trained to screen both humans and freight,” said the Revenue spokeswoman.

“The dogs have a passive response, meaning they are trained to operate using a ‘sit and stare’ approach in the presence of controlled/contraband substances or other suspicious items.”

A detection dog’s scenting ability is 50 times more acute than that of a human, and their career generally lasts five to seven years.

They are currently trained by UK-based company Dog Management.

The greatest number of dogs is at Dublin Airport – Frankie, Lottie, Grace, Barney and Scooby.

Dublin Port has three sniffer dogs – Hollie, Meg and Casey.

Rosslare Harbour is protected by Ralph, Defor and Alfie.

Also helping officials to sniff out wrongdoing around the country are Ben in Sligo, Harvey in Cork, Ollie in Shannon and Elvis in Kilkenny.

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