Parrot busted for helping narcotics cartel, Border Patrol drug dogs: Animals in the drug trade

Lorenzo the parrot – yes, parrot – was recently busted just for following orders.

Authorities seized 1,700 birds trained to act as drug lookouts/Thinkstock

Too bad his orders were to alert Columbian drug cartel members that police were lurking nearby, AP reports.

“Run, run, you are going to get caught,” is the catch phrase Lorenzo was trained to squawk in Spanish. And squawk he did when authorities moved in during an undercover drug raid last week on the cartel’s turf in Barranquilla.

Despite Lorenzo’s warning, authorities managed to seize “a large quantity” of marijuana, 200 weapons, and a stolen motorcycle. Police also made four arrests, perhaps from those too bird-brained to heed Lorenzo’s alert.

Oh, authorities also seized poor Lorenzo, along with 1,700 other birds who were also trained as lookouts for drug traffickers.


For the record, “environmental authorities” now have the birds.

Does training animals to abet in illegal activities constitute animal cruelty or abuse?

Drug dog in action/submitted

On the other side of the ring, so to speak, we have the U.S. Customs and Border Protection canines trained to sniff out narcotics.

The canine program officially began on April Fools Day 1970, the CBP website says, just when the futile “drug war” kicked off to counter the “make love, do drugs” stuff of the 1960s.

A German shepherd named Albert sniffed out the first drug dog bust, alerting on a car’s door panel that concealed five pounds of marijuana.

Compare this to the overall haul for fiscal year 2009, when drug dogs sniffed out more than 670,000 pounds of marijuana along with some 26,000 pounds of cocaine, more than 1,000 pounds of heroin, nearly 3 million pills and $34 million in undeclared cash.

The canine program last year alone trained 128 detection canines, trained to sniff out drugs, concealed humans, money and firearms. Don’t forget those specially trained to detect prohibited agricultural products and meats, dead bodies and those used in search and rescue operations.

But the dogs, and authorities, are certainly kept busy as parrots are not the only critters recruited into the drug trade.

Carrier pigeons have been used to smuggle little baggies of heroin and cocaine into prisoners in Bosnia, ABC News says, while an AP blurb in Brown University’s Laboratory Primate Newsletter notes monkeys have also been used in the drug trade.

Two monkeys in Bangladesh, named Munni and Hamid, were confiscated from a drug house when authorities learned they had been trained to sell drugs to addicts who showed up needing their fix of a narcotic syrup called phensidyl. The addicts would hand the money to Munni while Hamid would retrieve the little bottles of the syrup from their hiding places on the roof, beneath the bed or wherever else they were stashed around the home.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who likes drug sniffing dogs better than squawking parrots. Her column usually appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski, but the Friday, Sept. 24 entry will feature a special report instead. Her art, writing and more is at and E-mail

NOTE: Thanks to Cherlyn Gardner Strong for bringing this topic to my attention.

What do you think?

Do animals trained to help cartels or deal drugs constitute animal abuse?

Would you buy drugs from a monkey?


About Rynski

Writer, artist, performer who specializes in the weird, wacky and sometimes creepy. Learn more at
This entry was posted in Crime, danger, life, Pets/animals, Police/fire/law, Rynski Column and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Parrot busted for helping narcotics cartel, Border Patrol drug dogs: Animals in the drug trade

  1. Cherlyn Gardner Strong says:

    If the parrot is cared for, then no. However, what do they do with them if they get sick? What about the ones that aren’t successfully trained to alert? Do they kill them? So, yeah, it likely is. Drug sniffing dogs here have gotten nose cancer and other medical problems from sniffing cocaine and meth. Then, there are those occasional situations when the animal dies at the hands of their handlers.  CBP officer in July left a drug sniffing dog in his truck and forgot to put it in the kennel, due to a long overnight shift in El Paso. So, in July, stuck in a truck in El Paso from 8 to 4, the dog died a miserable death. When I go through the checkpoints, I feel sorry for the dogs working there, that could become gravely ill from sniffing drugs.

    • azmouse says:

      Good points, Cherlyn. I always thought of drug sniffing dogs as heroes. I never heard about the damage that could occur from their job, nor did I even think of it.

    • Rynski says:

      yes, thanks for add’l info, cherlyn.
      wow on the cancer et al from sniffing all those fine narcotics. so, even if the dog is not engaging in illegal activity per se, it can still be a major detriment working in the drug trade.
      handlers that ‘forget’ their dogs in hot cars (or otherwise neglect them) should def be cited for abuse, regardless of what side of the law they are on.
      in addition to your el paso example, there was the chandler police dog in 2007 killed off by his partner thanks to a hot car – and another one in phoenix left in car, also noted in the az republic story:
      both of those should DEF constitute abuse….

  2. azmouse says:

    I don’t think it’s abusive as long as they aren’t physically harming the animal to train them. I think many animals like having a ‘job’ or a bit of a routine in their lives, even though protecting criminals isn’t my idea of a ‘job’ for a pet. All my pets have a bit of a routine and things I call jobs for them to do. For example, I take my cats outside every day for fresh air and to roll in the grass under my supervision. When it’s time for the cats to come in, I tell the dogs it’s time to ‘cat wrangle’. My dogs jump up and start herding the two cats back in the house. They all love it!
    Those are the kind of jobs I think of pets having.

    It is sad though. I’ve seen drugs ruin so many lives and it sucks when these drug cartels find new ways to better their criminal enterprises.

    • Rynski says:

      hey azmouse –
      i know what you mean about animals liking to have a ‘job” to do. sawyer and phoebe’s fave job is scouting out our ‘easter egg hunt’ where they have to find all the treats hidden around the house.
      your ‘cat wrangle’ sounds adorable (and a bit more productive than the ‘easter egg hunt’ – hahahhaha).
      i also agree that it stinks when cartels are always on the cutting edge, so it seems, of all the latest ways to expand their destructive enterprises.

    • Cherlyn Gardner Strong says:

      I’m not a huge fan of the Dog Whisperer, but he’s right about dogs needing a job to do, which you clearly have given to your dogs. I think it’s great. I have three unruly pups from the Humane Society who are resisting me! All three went for their first few months neglected. Two were owner surrenders because they chew everything and the owners left them alone all day to go to work. The Dog Whisperer says:
      “The fact is that if you don’t give your dog a job to do, she will become self-employed, such as the homework eating “student.” One of the main reasons that people have problems with their dogs is that the dog is unemployed, hence there is a lack of mental, physical, and emotional stimulation.” Full article here:
      There are too many unemployed dogs out there! They need jobs to do!

  3. Alan in Kent WA says:

    I understand the use of animals, as it is the smart thing to do to use creatures smarter than the people involved.

  4. fraser007 says:

    LOL But could the two monkies actually read what the amount of the bill was?? Guess you could slip him a dollar bill and not the 20.00!!! What would he know!

    • Rynski says:

      oh, fraser007 – don’t try to trip up the poor monkeys! hahahah.
      think the blurb noted something about money denominations being different colors that monkeys could recognize…but yes, that’s an awesome point!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s