Lorenzo the parrot – yes, parrot – was recently busted just for following orders.

Authorities seized 1,700 birds trained to act as drug lookouts/Thinkstock

Too bad his orders were to alert Columbian drug cartel members that police were lurking nearby, AP reports.

“Run, run, you are going to get caught,” is the catch phrase Lorenzo was trained to squawk in Spanish. And squawk he did when authorities moved in during an undercover drug raid last week on the cartel’s turf in Barranquilla.

Despite Lorenzo’s warning, authorities managed to seize “a large quantity” of marijuana, 200 weapons, and a stolen motorcycle. Police also made four arrests, perhaps from those too bird-brained to heed Lorenzo’s alert.

Oh, authorities also seized poor Lorenzo, along with 1,700 other birds who were also trained as lookouts for drug traffickers.


For the record, “environmental authorities” now have the birds.

Does training animals to abet in illegal activities constitute animal cruelty or abuse?

Drug dog in action/submitted

On the other side of the ring, so to speak, we have the U.S. Customs and Border Protection canines trained to sniff out narcotics.

The canine program officially began on April Fools Day 1970, the CBP website says, just when the futile “drug war” kicked off to counter the “make love, do drugs” stuff of the 1960s.

A German shepherd named Albert sniffed out the first drug dog bust, alerting on a car’s door panel that concealed five pounds of marijuana.

Compare this to the overall haul for fiscal year 2009, when drug dogs sniffed out more than 670,000 pounds of marijuana along with some 26,000 pounds of cocaine, more than 1,000 pounds of heroin, nearly 3 million pills and $34 million in undeclared cash.

The canine program last year alone trained 128 detection canines, trained to sniff out drugs, concealed humans, money and firearms. Don’t forget those specially trained to detect prohibited agricultural products and meats, dead bodies and those used in search and rescue operations.

But the dogs, and authorities, are certainly kept busy as parrots are not the only critters recruited into the drug trade.

Carrier pigeons have been used to smuggle little baggies of heroin and cocaine into prisoners in Bosnia, ABC News says, while an AP blurb in Brown University’s Laboratory Primate Newsletter notes monkeys have also been used in the drug trade.

Two monkeys in Bangladesh, named Munni and Hamid, were confiscated from a drug house when authorities learned they had been trained to sell drugs to addicts who showed up needing their fix of a narcotic syrup called phensidyl. The addicts would hand the money to Munni while Hamid would retrieve the little bottles of the syrup from their hiding places on the roof, beneath the bed or wherever else they were stashed around the home.


Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster who likes drug sniffing dogs better than squawking parrots. Her column usually appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski, but the Friday, Sept. 24 entry will feature a special report instead. Her art, writing and more is at RynRules.com and Rynski.Etsy.com. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.

NOTE: Thanks to Cherlyn Gardner Strong for bringing this topic to my attention.

What do you think?

Do animals trained to help cartels or deal drugs constitute animal abuse?

Would you buy drugs from a monkey?