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Dogs used as drug ‘mules’

TWO LABRADORS were used as drug ‘mules’ and had 21 cocaine canisters placed in their stomachs by a gang trying to smuggle the drug into Britain, a court was told last week
Rex, a yellow labrador, and Frispa, a black labrador, were on a plane from Colombia when their poor condition was noticed by a vet during a stopover at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, whilst awaiting a connecting flight to Stansted.

He saw they had four-week-old surgical scars on their bellies and detected hard objects around Rex's stomach. X-rays showed packets inside both the animals' body cavity beside their internal organs. Between them, the dogs had a total of 21 packets of cocaine, weighing 2.5 lbs implanted in their bodies.

John Cooper, QC, prosecuting, said at Norwich Crown Court that several canisters had fused to the connective tissue inside Frispa, meaning that they could not be removed without killing her.

However, the condition had made the dog very weak and Customs officials were told that, if the objects were left in place, she would not survive and was put to sleep.

Several members of the gang were detained at Stansted airport, Essex, when 1.13 kilograms of cocaine worth £126,000 was recovered.

Sophia McPherson, 24, a student at St Martin's College in London, was arrested when she arrived at the airport to pick up the dogs from the Martinair flight on Oct 3rd last year and charged with conspiracy to import Class A drugs.

Three others, Gregory Graham, 27, of Harrow, north-west London, and Glenroy Kentish, 28, of Hitchin, Herts, were arrested in a nearby lay-by shortly afterwards.

Kaye Chapman, also of Harrow, who police say was originally intended to pick up the dogs, was arrested later that day. All four have pleaded not guilty to attempting to smuggle class A drugs into the UK between September 26th and October 3rd 2003.

The trial continues.