Tuesday, October 20, 2009
U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents are using drug sniffing dogs to help patrol pedestrian crossings along the U.S.-Mexico border in California. Federal officials say it's a pilot program to help crack down on drug smuggling.
The number of people caught trying to sneak drugs through pedestrian crossings with the contraband taped to their bodies has increased during the last year.
Customs and Border Protection officials says they averaged nearly two arrests a day from last March though mid-July and arrests have continued on that pace.
Pete Flores, who heads CBP's canine unit, says he deployed dogs at pedestrian crossings to help sniff out smugglers.
"Typically, our dogs don't work with people. They work with things," he says. "So it was getting them used to working with people, kind of the unexpected things of being in an environment that close with people is what we had to get them used to."
Canines helped detect four people with drugs taped to their bodies late last week.
Flores says federal officials may expand the program if the dogs continue to be effective.