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Customs and AFP farewell Dasher.

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Sunday 16 July 2000

Customs and AFP farewell Dasher

A successful career came to an end today with the retirement of Australian Customs Service Drug Detector Dog, Dasher, Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Amanda Vanstone said.

Senator Vanstone said Dasher had been a valuable asset in the fight against the importation of illicit drugs into Australia.

"Australian Customs dogs, including Dasher, have a fantastic record in detecting drugs concealed in sometimes extremely elaborate places, including a history of being able to detect narcotics such as heroin, cocaine and cannabis that has been carried internally," she said.

"Customs detector dogs are highly respected throughout the world. They detect narcotics almost daily and since 1995 when the labrador breeding and training program gained impetus, the dogs have made more than 6000 detections.

"Customs labradors are versatile and effective and are one of the frontline forces used by Customs at airports and seaports. They also assist the Australian Federal Police with their investigations," Senator Vanstone said.

She said the Australian Government’s Tough on Drugs strategy was being effectively implemented by Customs and the AFP through its combined use of drug detector dogs and high tech equipment.

As a passive alert dog Dasher is trained to locate drugs carried by people, primarily at airports. Passive alert dogs sit in front of people or

baggage when they make a detection. Active alert dogs are trained to search sea and air cargo, baggage, international mail centres, vessels and buildings, responding by scratching and biting at the location.

Some of the unusual finds by drug detector dogs during Customs and AFP operations include, cocaine dissolved in shampoo, cannabis concealed under a chicken shed, morphine impregnated into clothing, amphetamine powder in the false sides of a suitcase, and $64,500 in currency under a chest of drawers.

Background information Dasher - handler is James Ord-Hume

Dasher will spend her retirement with James running around the Maribyrnong river, and resting in James' backyard.

Dasher and her handler James was one of the teams trained in 1995 when the Customs Drug Detector Dog Program gained impetus.

Dashers noteworthy detections include:

456.5 grams of Heroin concealed internally by a courier on 05APR1997 at Melbourne Airport ● 270 grams of Cannabis carried by a domestic passenger in a Victoria Police operation at the Ansett Domestic Terminal at Melbourne Airport. ●

3000 grams (3 kilos) of cocaine carried by a Canadian passenger into Melbourne Airport on 26AUG1998 ● 500 grams of Cannabis Resin concealed internally by a courier on 19NOV1998 at Melbourne Airport ● $64,500 in currency hidden under a chest of drawers in a Premises Search in Sydney on 05FEB1999 with the NSW Police Service. ● 693 grams of Heroin carried by a Vietnamese passenger in a Victoria Police operation at the Ansett Domestic Terminal at

Melbourne Airport on 05AUG1999 ●

200 grams of Morphine Impregnated into clothing carried by a passenger at Melbourne Airport on 17SEP1999 ●

Some of the stranger finds have included:

4 grams of cannabis and 27 grams of magic mushrooms concealed internally by a passenger arriving into Melbourne Airport on 24FEB1998 ●

285 grams of cannabis in a "Hash cake" carried into Melbourne Airport by a female passenger on 17APR1996. ● 2 grams of cannabis and 1 gram of magic mushrooms concealed internally by a passenger at Melbourne Airport on 20DEC1995. ●

Passive Alert Dogs - known as PADs There are 9 Passive Alert Dogs Australia-wide, with 2 currently in training. ● 2 PADs are based in Melbourne. ●

The first PAD was Tarquin, with handler Geoff Harrison. ● A PAD team comprises of Handler, dog and "scout" - (ie a Customs passenger processing officer who is a member of the team and equally responsible for the success - though they may change a little more frequently) ●

Active Alert Dogs There are 28 Active dogs Australia-wide. ●

Customs Drug Detector Dog Statistics Notable seizures by PADs

6.8 kg ecstasy on body (WA) 2.3kg cocaine on body (QLD) 1.1 kg cocaine on body (QLD)

Recent Powder seizures by Drug Detector Dogs (Active and Passive) 14/11/97 2.13kg MDMA Bodypack ● 04/08/98 3kg Cocaine Handbaggage ● 26/08/98 3kg MDMA Handbaggage ●

23/11/98 4kg MDMA Handbaggage ● 29/02/98 1kg Cocaine Bodypack (shoes) ● 15/01/99 3kg MDMA Holdbaggage ● 23/05/99 4.7kg Cocaine Bodypack ●

29/01/00 40gms Cocaine Bodypack ● 29/01/00 160gms Cocaine Bodypack ● 26/05/00 1kg Cocaine Body & shoes ● 26/05/00 1kg Cocaine Body & shoes ●

Total Drug Detector Dog seizures around Australia (by financial year)

95-96 - 1409 96-97 - 1193 97-98 - 1310 98-99 - 1324 99-00 - 1031 (to March quarter)

Total Drug Detector Dog seizures in Melbourne (by calendar year)

1995 - 289 1996 - 315 1997 - 255 1998 - 259 1999 - 291

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