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Drugs sewn into puppies headed for Kennedy: DEA

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"The organization's outrageous and heinous smuggling method of implanting heroin inside puppies is a true indication of the extent that drug dealers go to make their profit," said John Gilbride, U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration special agent in charge. "This investigation identified the individuals who were responsible for overseeing and smuggling millions of dollars worth of heroin from Colombia to the East Coast."The accused Colombian drug gang members were arrested in six Colombian cities during a raid, authorities said. During those raids, the dogs were discovered on a farm in Medellin, authorities said. Six of the 10 Labrador and Rottweiler puppy couriers were found with a total of three kilograms of liquid heroin packets sewn into their stomachs. Only four of the dogs survived.The packets measured about 5 inches long by 3 inches wide and had a total street value of about $2 million, investigators said. When feds made the discovery, three of the dogs had already died and three more died within several days, authorities said. All of them died from infection, a spokeswoman said.One of the pups is recovering after a vet successfully removed a heroin packet from his stomach, authorities said. Another dog ran away during the arrests, she said.In response to the news, the feds said there has been an outpouring of concern from New Yorkers who want to adopt the dogs; however, all of the surviving dogs have been adopted by the Colombian National Police and will be trained as drug-sniffers.The DEA arrested a group of 22 Colombian nationals in Medellin Wednesday, Feb. 1, a group who authorities say are no strangers to Queens."We know that they had tried to smuggle heroin in other manners through JFK," said a spokeswoman for the DEA. "They used 'swallowers' and they used aerosol cans that they would hollow out."'Swallowers,' she said, are human couriers who typically gulp down condoms filled with cocaine or heroine in order to get past airport security. Smugglers would also sew packets into the linings of their coat pockets, she said."Using dogs is very unusual," the spokeswoman said, noting that it was still unclear if smugglers had successfully tried the method before. "We don't know what they would do with them afterwards. It's a morbid thought." Members of the drug ring tried to smuggle heroin through JFK in the past, authorities said, but those methods were usually performed by human couriers. Feds said the group was responsible for smuggling more than 20 kilograms of heroin to the United StatesThe DEA also seized heroin that was concealed in body creams, aerosol cans, pressed into bead shapes and sewn into the lining of purses and double-sided luggage.The DEA's two-year investigation of the Medellin, Colombia-based drug ring culminated Feb. 1 in an international round-up that included 18 search warrants executed in six Colombian cities. Agents seized 14 stashes of heroin totaling 24 kilograms, one batch of cocaine totaling six kilograms; and made 22 arrests.Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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