|True Stories of Marco's Greatest
Apprehensions and Drug Arrests:
"The 'Double Catch' : Same
| Marco loved to find his toy. His toy was anything he could chew on.
But the reason I loved it that he craved his toy is because he would sniff
for it vehemently. Marco had been trained to sniff out illegal drugs by
using his nose. But how is what most people wonder. Many people are
under the false pretense that police dogs are addicted to the drugs that
they sniff out. Not even close is the answer to that. First of all, it’s the
chemicals in the drugs that get people “high” or even addicted to them.
But the odors that these illegal drugs give off are nothing that gets a
human “high” or addicted to. The dogs are trained to get use to smelling
the odors by these odors being absorbed into their toys.
So every time Marco would chew on his toy, he smelled the odor of
methamphetamine, marijuana, cocaine or heroin. Those were the main
odors Marco was trained for when he was a Detector Dog. Many police
dogs have been trained for those odors and even more illegal drugs
nowadays. So the idea was Marco would hunt when commanded, him
believing when he smelled his toy he was gonna find it and reward
himself by finding it. But what he actually was doing was being trained
to alert to those odors with him thinking it was a toy.
Marco possessed one of the exceptional ‘drives’ needed for a good
‘detector dog’ which was his ‘prey drive’. That was his drive that after he
had his ‘prey’ (his toy) he loved to chew on it and then use his ‘retrieve
drive’ and fetch it when I threw it. So he was obsessive with his toy and
he always loved to play with it. The more I played with Marco and his
toy, the more he loved it. The toy would be anything from a shoe to a
piece of rubber hose. As long as I had the toy ‘prepped’ with one of
those odors, I knew he smelled it as he played and chewed on it.
The easiest way to get it to smell like the odor was to simply put the
toy in a military ammo can with a small amount of drugs. Then the odor
would saturate the toy. Simple concept actually. So in realistic fashion
Marco thought he was always hunting for his toy. He was actually
helping me find illegal drugs. So on an actual deployment around
someone’s car, if Marco alerted to the odor he would aggressively scratch
and bite at that area. It wouldn't matter if he smelled the odor at the
bottom of a car door seam or at the front bumper of a vehicle. He
smelled what he thought was a toy hidden.
Once that alert happened, it was ‘probable cause’ time. That meant
we as law officers needed no search warrant as long as it was a vehicle
that the certified police dog had alerted to. This was a decision made
long ago by the courts not we in law enforcement. We would then search
that vehicle and usually find the illegal drugs either easily hidden or
secreted very well.
One of these times that the illegal drugs were located by Marco
actually resulted in a double ‘Marco Catch’. The following explains this.
I had literally been married for only two days and was four days away
from my new bride and me to leave on our Honeymoon cruise when I was
called at home by dispatch that one of our troopers had a vehicle that he
had lost on a vehicle pursuit and the vehicle had been located. Only
thing was when the trooper located it, it was empty of any suspect. The
vehicle ended in a neighborhood in Grand Island. The pursuit happened
after the trooper had made a traffic stop of the car for a minor traffic
violation and after talking to the subject the trooper became suspicious
and the suspect sped off in his vehicle.
The call came to me around three in the afternoon. When they told
me George was the one who had made the request for me for this little
pursuit and his suspicions he had on the car, I knew Marco and I were on
a call that would be eventful.
George was a guy who had came on a year earlier than I and always
had a knack for catching bad guys. He was ‘head smart’ and always had
the sense of being safe while working in such a dangerous job and didn’t
take unnecessary risks. In fact George was a guy I tried to recruit to join
the SWAT (Special Weapons And Tactics team) that I was on. He later
joined and was a valuable Team member. This traffic stop of his was no
different in the tenacity he possessed in catching criminals.
He had stopped a white Dodge 4-door being driven by Oscar
Bustamante. Mr. Bustamante had made George suspicious enough that
he had asked for consent to search his car. Mr. Bustamante had different
ideas though. By mistake he decided to instead of simply saying “no you
can’t search my car” he fled back to the car, and sped off. Not a smart
way to exercise your 4th amendment right. It would have been smarter to
have said “no’ than to have fled off breaking more laws. So now a
pursuit was on.
George pursued the Dodge at speeds up to 90 MPH as the Dodge
exited at the first opportunity and sped towards the city limits. As
Bustamante neared the city limits he must have made a bold decision to
‘ditch’ the car. As the Dodge entered a neighborhood, George lost sight
of the Dodge as it eluded him into a backyard area where the car was
abandoned with the driver’s door still open and the engine still running
when George sped up to it. George quickly got a perimeter set up and
being on the edge of the city limits he thought he had a good chance of
locating the hiding suspect with some special dog assistance. That
assistance being Marco.
The call was made to me and after I arrived, there were at least five
troopers on scene, four deputies, countless city police officers and my
own commander. Yeah, I couldn’t quite believe my own Captain was
walking around with a shotgun poised as we started to search for the
suspect. Bryan Tuma had just relocated to Grand Island with his fresh
new promotion after leaving our Training Academy. Eventually he would
be promoted to be my Colonel.
After I arrived I learned the officers had a pretty good perimeter of
the area which was a heavily wooded area right along a major highway.
I had hoped the suspect had not hitched a ride with someone picking him
up as a hitchhiker before the perimeter was set up. Before I started to
search with Marco, a police sergeant came to me and gave me the advice
of not forgetting to search a grove of trees a little ways apart from the
main area of containment. This separate area of trees was actually a
large ‘windrow’ of tall pine trees.
A ‘windrow’ is a line of trees that are purposely planted to keep the
abundant wind from being so strong near buildings and homes. They are
also planted to especially help keep the heavy snow from blowing
towards the homes during the winter. The trees make the snow instead
drift into tall hills around and into the trees and not towards the homes
or highways the ‘windrows’ are set up near.
I retrieved my 30 foot tracking leash and walked with Marco towards
some of the coppers. These were the guys who would watch ahead of
the dog for any movement while I watched Marco. They were George and
Andy Allen. Andy had been a cop as long as I had and came through the
academy with me. Andy could always get himself into a good caper
catching bad guys by finding lots of dope in vehicles himself. Andy was
also on the SWAT team with me and was trained to be tactical especially
while searching in an environment like this.
I hooked up the long leash to Marco’s collar and gave him command
to search the area. It was late April, the spring time air filled my lungs
as Marco and I set off with George and Andy both ten feet back to my
left and right. Marco knew even though it was the long leash that he
was hooked up to, he was not supposed to ‘track a suspect’ unless he
recognized a ‘track’ on the ground but instead was supposed to use his
eyes, his ears and his nose to smell for a human upwind of him. The
‘ritual’ of tracking a suspect that he was accustomed to didn’t occur so he
knew we were gonna use his ‘air-scent drive’ to hunt the air for odor. We
searched the area for some time when Marco had indeed found a ‘track’
along the ground and pulled me along for the ride. We were practically
running as Marco pulled. I told George and Andy Marco was on to a
‘track’ and keep up and keep their eyes open cause Marco was ‘on it’. We
were now by this long ‘windrow’ grove of tall pine trees when Marco took
a hard left underneath a large pine tree and I heard the “Por favor, no
mas... no mas…por favor”.
The yelling came from the suspect Bustamante. Marco had appre-
hended the suspect who had tried to hide himself in the overgrowth of
the large tree. As I pulled hard on the leash it drug Marco towards me
with the suspect in tow. As the suspect came out in sight he had his
hands out and I immediately called Marco to release which he did. I then
had Marco come back to my side to ‘heel’ but in his German command
that I used with him, and then Andy went in and handcuffed
Bustamante. We checked him over and the only injury he had was to his
lower calf where Marco had apprehended him.
After Andy searched him, he couldn’t find any identification on him or a wallet.
George said that Bustamante had a wallet and California driver’s license when he
had been stopped earlier on the traffic stop. We radioed for officers back at the
Dodge to search it and when they radioed us back we learned they couldn’t locate
any wallet or license there either. Just then George emerged from the large tree
where Bustamante had been hidden and said he had found a wallet.
Bustamante had hidden the wallet by burying it in the dirt. Inside the old worn
leather wallet were two identifications. One was the California license originally
that George had seen and also a Mexico license from the state of Sinaloa with our
suspects picture on it. Only curious thing was that the name on the Mexico
license was a different name. We later learned after getting our suspect to the
local lockup by checking his fingerprints he was not actually Bustamante but
actually a guy named Antonio Coralles-Rodriguez
But Marco’s day was far from over. We still had the Dodge to go over
because George had suspected it to contain drugs. So we walked our way back
to the Dodge and had a tow truck hook up to it and then followed it back to the
patrol office. We knew that the only way to get in the car at this point was a
positive K-9 alert or to seek out a search warrant. We knew the K-9 alert would
be the probable cause we needed but it was up to Marco to get that for us.
After the Dodge arrived from the neighborhood pursuit to our office which was
only a few miles, we put the Dodge in the garage at our office. George and I
talked and Andy was there to. In fact our Captain was up on the stairs that leads
into the second floor offices when I walked in with Marco. These guys were
waiting with anticipation but it was mainly George who was really hoping his
suspicions were right that he had obtained back on the interstate with this guy
and the Dodge.
Marco laid quietly at the rear of the Dodge on the cement floor about five feet
away when he started to sniff with his nose up and towards the Dodge. He
leaned and leaned towards the rear bumper when he then got up on his own and
started to alert all over the back bumper. Marco as all police dogs are trained to
be obedient and Marco had been given a command to ‘plotz’ behind the Dodge
which is to lie down. But the police dog is allowed to ‘break’ this obedient
command for two reasons. To either protect me if a suspect starts to fight with
me OR if he alerts to the odor of the illegal drugs he’s trained to sniff out. And
that was why Marco had ‘broken’ the command of his downed position.
So all I could do now was give him his continued commands to search for
drugs which he was doing quite well. He stared to aggressively scratch all over
the rear bumper when I commanded him to follow me around the Dodge. Marco
was not hooked up to a leash so he walked right beside me as we approached
the passenger side of the car and made it to the front all along with Marco sniffing
for any odor. As we neared the front, Marco again started to alert all over this
bumper too. He then started his scratching and biting all over the bumper when I
livened things up for him telling him in my high praiseful voice that he was a good
dog and rubbed his sides aggressively while hyping him up all while he scratched
and bit at the bumper.
That was one of the things this highly trained police dog lived for. The love of
his Handler. Me. He needed to know he was doing a good thing. He thinks it’s
his toy he smells but in reality, we later learned it was hidden compartments in the
bumpers filled with marijuana. I soon had to reward Marco with an actual toy and
he ran all over the garage with it until he found a spot in the corner of the garage
lay down, and started to chew and bite on it. We marched out of the garage
together as I put him away in the patrol unit with his still chewing on that toy.
After and during the alert to the bumpers, Andy high-fived George and they
knew they were gonna be in for a busy night taking some bumpers off. After I
walked back in the garage George already had a bunch of tools out and we
examined the rear bumper. After looking it over, it was seen that the plastic
bumper cover would have to be dismantled and removed which was the first thing
we did. After the plastic bumper shroud was removed it was apparent what we
The smuggling organization had actually removed the real inside bumper of
this car in the rear and replaced it with a long metal hollow box. The metal box
was six inches by six inches and the entire length of the bumper in length.
Probably four foot or so in length. The metal box and been fastened to the
automobile very well and inside were the bundles of highly packed, bricked
marijuana that were formed exactly in six by six inch bundles and each were
around one foot long. So after George pushed the bundles out from one end to
the other, it was apparent we had one more bumper to go. We all moved to the
front bumper and after taking it away the same way, we recovered those four
bundles also and then took all eight bundles to the scale we had there in the
garage and Andy helped George weight up the ‘booty’.
After the night was all complete, George had seized nearly eighty pounds of
bricked marijuana and a car that had been changed to secrete this and many
other loads of illegal contraband. George was also responsible for catching a drug
smuggler by the name of Antonio Coralles-Rodriguez, who we learned had already
been deported from the United States as an illegal alien who already had a lengthy
drug history before George’s arrest. George thanked Marco and me for the help
and the fun evening and soon Marco and I set-off for home.
|PSD MARCO service
Oct 1992-June 2001