"The 'Double Catch' : Same
George always was good to get myself and Marco into a caper. This shift was exactly what I'm talking about.
Double-Catch Drug Interdiction
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 human “high” or addicted to. The dogs are trained to get use to smellinthe 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 the Patrol 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 one day.
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.
So 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 apprehended 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 oursuspects 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 had.
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.