HomeNewsBriefDogs Used as Drug 'Mules' to Traffic Cocaine to Italy
BRIEF

Dogs Used as Drug 'Mules' to Traffic Cocaine to Italy

MEXICO / 27 MAR 2013 BY CLAIRE O NEILL MCCLESKEY EN

Italian police have uncovered a drug trafficking ring in Milan that used dogs as drug "mules," or couriers, to smuggle cocaine from Mexico, as Latin American gangs reportedly expand their influence in northern Italy.

Police arrested at least 75 people of Latin American origin, including several from Ecuador and Mexico, on charges of organized crime and drug trafficking, following a year-long operation by regional authorities.

Italian prosecutor Alberto Nobili told Excelsior authorities had documented at least 48 trips by members of the gang in which the group used large dogs such as Saint Bernards and Great Danes, to move up to 1.25 kilograms of cocaine in each animal.

The gang members reportedly had assistance from a veterinarian in Mexico, who placed packets of cocaine wrapped in cellophane and carbon paper into the dogs' insides to avoid X-ray detection. The dogs were later killed and cut open to retrieve the drugs.

The prosecutor explained that the number and strength of Latin American criminal groups in northern Italy has increased in recent years. However, as an Italian police official told the Associated Press, this marks the first time that a group of this kind has been accused of constituting a "mafia-type association."

InSight Crime Analysis

There are two things of note. One is the ruthless use of animals to traffic illicit drugs. Other cases have been reported in Colombia. It appears, so far, to be a little used method, but the cruel nature of it (as well as the public's obsession with animal rights) may do more to harm drug traffickers' image than any other criminal act. 

Secondly, gangs with roots in Latin America, such as the Latin Kings, Luzbel, Comando, and Neta have grown in northern Italy in recent years. Authorities say these gangs are comprised predominantly of young Ecuadorians, Peruvians and Dominicans who have lived in Italy for most of their lives but faced difficulties assimilating.

These gangs have been tied to the burgeoning local market in Italy. According to European police force EUROPOL, Italy is one of Europe's largest cocaine consumption markets.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

EL CHAPO / 9 SEP 2015

A new report alleges Guatemala's recently resigned president Otto Perez Molina accepted a bribe from Mexican drug lord Joaquin…

MEXICO / 6 APR 2018

The Zetas were once Mexico’s most feared and violent organized crime threat. Now, the group is a fragmented shadow of…

COVID AND CRIME / 24 JUN 2020

The pace of eco-trafficking in Latin America does not appear to have slowed under the coronavirus pandemic, with the smuggling…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Apure Investigation Makes Headlines

22 OCT 2021

InSight Crime’s investigation into the battle for the Venezuelan border state of Apure resonated in both Colombian and Venezuelan media. A dozen outlets picked up the report, including Venezuela’s…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Tackles Illegal Fishing

15 OCT 2021

In October, InSight Crime and American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS) began a year-long project on illegal, unreported, unregulated (IUU) fishing in…

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Featured in Handbook for Reporting on Organized Crime

8 OCT 2021

In late September, the Global Investigative Journalism Network (GIJN) published an excerpt of its forthcoming guide on reporting organized crime in Indonesia.

THE ORGANIZATION

Probing Organized Crime in Haiti

1 OCT 2021

InSight Crime has made it a priority to investigate organized crime in Haiti, where an impotent state is reeling after the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse, coupled with an…

THE ORGANIZATION

Emergency First Aid in Hostile Environments

24 SEP 2021

At InSight Crime's annual treat, we ramped up hostile environment and emergency first aid training for our 40-member staff, many of whom conduct on-the-ground investigations in dangerous corners of the region.