Video: Puppy drug ring busted
updated 2/2/2006 10:31:05 PM ET 2006-02-03T03:31:05

Drug enforcement agents have uncovered a cruel new tactic that smugglers are using to sneak heroin into the U.S. 

The DEA announced that they had busted a multimillion-dollar drug ring.  But what is so disturbing is how they were trying to sneak the drugs over the border.  They used Labrador puppies.  They cut them open and stuffed them with packages of heroin, then stitched them back up and smuggled them through U.S. customs. 

Rita Cosby was joined by the DEA special agent in charge of the New York division, John F. Gilbride to discuss the case.

To read an excerpt from their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

RITA COSBY, HOST 'LIVE & DIRECT': Agent Gilbride, you know, this is shocking.  What was your reaction when you heard that they were using puppies? 

JOHN F. GILBRIDE, DEA SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE:  Well, I was appalled.  It‘s a disturbing method of drug trafficking that really crosses way out of bounds, in terms of using innocent, small puppies to smuggle heroin, poison, onto the streets of the United States and, in particular, New York City. 

COSBY:  You know, how—walk us through sort of the chain, because what it starts in, what, Colombia?  Walk us through how it ends up on the streets of New York.

GILBRIDE:  The streets of New York and, in particular, the Northeast, the majority of the heroin used in the Northeast and in New York comes from Colombia.  And in this case, the investigation focused on an organization that was involved in using various methods to smuggle heroin into the United States. 

They used these puppies.  They used human swallowers that would swallow heroin pellets and then smuggle it in to the United States.  They also used false-sided suitcases.  They used various methods to get their heroin into the United States and then eventually to the streets of New York. 

COSBY:  Yes, as we‘re looking at these pictures of these cute puppies, did these puppies survive?  Because, as we talked about, they have to cut them open to put the heroin inside and then stitch them back up.

GILBRIDE:  Well, what happened was the Colombian national police received a tip that there was a farm in Medellin, Colombia, that they should look at.  They went to that farm, and they found a veterinary clinic of sorts. 

And at that clinic were 10 puppies.  Six of those puppies had liquid heroin surgically implanted into the bellies of the puppies.  Three of those puppies, unfortunately, died from infection after these heroin packets were removed from their stomachs. 

COSBY:  Yes, how dangerous are these Colombians?  And what kind of charges do these criminals face tonight? 

GILBRIDE:  Well, currently they‘re facing charges in New York City, in the eastern district of New York in federal court.  And they‘re also facing charges in their own country of Colombia. 

COSBY:  And most likely will they stay here, be extradited?  And how desperate are they to do this to poor, helpless animals? 

GILBRIDE:  Well, it just goes to show the lengths that a drug trafficking organization will go to smuggle their drugs into the United States.  And individuals that use these drugs should think long and hard about how these drugs are getting into the United States, smuggled into bellies of puppies, swallowed by individuals who then travel to the United States and excrete the heroin. 

It‘s very disturbing, the lengths that these drug trafficking organizations will go to get their poison onto the streets of New York. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  Very disturbing.  Well, good job on your part. And good to hear that Colombian officials were also helping in this one.

Watch 'Rita Cosby Live & Direct' each night at 9 p.m. ET on MSNBC.

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