In Depth

Colombian drug cartel puts £53,000 price on dog’s head

Sombra had become something of a celebrity for her powers of drug-detection

A police dog in Colombia has been moved and given extra protection after a drug gang put a bounty on her head.

Sombra, which means Shadow in English, has sniffed out record amounts of illegal drugs in the Urabá region, which traffickers use to access the sea.

Earlier this year she found 10 tonnes of the Urabeños gang’s cocaine, and now the group wants her dead. As a result she has been moved to work in an airport in a new area outside of the gang’s influence, and will be accompanied by extra officers according to The Daily Telegraph.

The gang is offering the equivalent of £53,000 for anyone who kills her, according to police intelligence.

Sombra’s work has led to 245 arrests over the past few years.

“The fact they want to hurt Sombra and offer such a high reward for her capture or death shows the impact she's had on their profits,” a Colombia police spokesperson said.

Sombra’s efforts for law enforcement have twice earned her the Wilson Quintero medal, an honour awarded for critical contributions to the fight against drug trafficking.

This month, “police used Sombra to specifically call out the Urabeños’s notorious alleged chief, a former paramilitary guerrilla turned drug trafficker named Dairo Antonio Úsuga”, says The Washington Post. In Colombian, he’s known as “Otoniel.”

“In the last three years she’s become the torment of ‘Otoniel,'” a recent tweet stated.

But the dog can handle the high profile, her owners have said.

“Sombra is a very friendly, calm canine, and for that reason, she has no problem approaching children or people who want to say hello to her,” Oscar Favian Solarte, head of the anti-narcotics division, told El Tiempo. “She’s playful, and in fact that is part of the development of her job. Not only to look for caches of illicit drugs but also, after her work is done, to de-stress, so to speak.”

Colombia is one of the world’s leading producers of cocaine, with an output of around 910 tonnes per year, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

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