Taipei, Jan. 31 (CNA) Drug-sniffing dogs uncovered smuggled narcotics with an estimated street value of NT$330 million (US$11.83 million) at Taiwan’s border in 2021, according to the Customs Administration’s Detector Dog Breeding and Training Center.
The 37 drug-sniffing dogs currently in service with the center detected a total of 758 kilograms of illicit drugs last year, the center told CNA in a recent interview.
Ketamine was the most common type of drug detected by the dogs last year, according to the center.
The amount of the seized drugs was up from 128.7 kg in 2020, but lower than the 3,147.7 kg in 2019, according to statistics from the center’s website.
The center also unveiled various recently discovered methods used by drug traffickers to avoid being caught, including smearing the scent of wolves on packages and wrapping narcotics in carbon paper.
While the carbon paper may make it more difficult for noncanine customs officials to uncover contraband through an X-ray machine, the detector dogs actually are more responsive to the unique smell and can alert their handlers, the center said.
With existing work checking shipments at the Port of Keelung and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport planning to open a third terminal in 2026, the center said it had plans to expand to 44 handler-and-dog pairings by 2025.
The center said it was also planning to train labradors to detect smuggled cigarettes and bombs as well as take part in search and rescue missions run by the National Fire Agency, National Police Agency, Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, and military police.
Since the introduction of drug-sniffing dogs from Australia 13 years ago, Taiwan has achieved a rate of success of over 20 percent in terms of training locally bred puppies into service dogs, the center said.
(By Wu Chia-jung and Kay Liu)