IRISH CUSTOMS officials are employing a new brand of Sniffer Dog to try to catch criminals smuggling large amounts of cash in and out of the country.
The dogs will be specially trained to detect wads of currencies by picking up the scent of the dye used on banknotes.
Customs officials use nine dogs trained to detect drugs such as cocaine, heroin, cannabis and amphetamines. One team is trained in the detection of ecstasy, while another is expert at sniffing out cigarettes.
Such sniffer dogs are already in use in other countries. Their effectiveness has forced crime gangs to resort to techniques used by drug smugglers when they move money across borders. Stashes of cash have been found concealed in hollowed-out shoes, electrical goods, bicycle tyres, nappies, and a box of washing powder.
Alan Smullen, a senior dog handler at Dublin airport, says a well-trained hound is better than a sniffing machine. "The machine takes 10 or 15 minutes to process a scent whereas a dog can screen anything from 100 to 200 bags in that time," he said.
Recently a sniffer dog based at London’s Heathrow Airport found £680,000 double-wrapped in clingfilm and carbon paper. When a large amount of money is found, it is up to the holder to prove it is legitimate. They are not arrested, but the money is confiscated until proof of ownership and legitimacy is provided.
Drug detector dog teams are also based in Cork, Dublin port (two teams), Rosslare, Sligo, Shannon and Waterford. A Revenue spokesman said the dogs helped detect £3.3m worth of drugs in 186 seizures last year and more than £2m worth in 2003.