By John Ensor •
Updated: 25 Nov 2023 • 16:01
Image of Camila.
A rescue dog who was used to smuggle drugs into the UK has been saved, while the criminal behind the scheme now finds himself behind bars.
In a surprising turn of events, a dog who unwittingly became embroiled in a major drug smuggling operation has found a new lease of life. This heartwarming story has a happy ending after its unsavoury beginnings in the dark world of international drug trafficking.
In May of this year, Camila, a two-year-old dog, arrived at Heathrow Airport from Mexico with her owner, 43-year-old Mexican national Jorge Pablo Samano Galas.
Staff at the Animal Aircare Reception Centre grew suspicious when they noticed how Camila’s crate was excessively heavy and had unusual dimensions, along with a strong odour of paint stripper.
Their investigation revealed ten one-kilo blocks of cocaine cunningly concealed within a false base of the crate. This discovery led to the involvement of Border Force and the National Crime Agency (NCA).
Samano Galas was apprehended when he came to collect Camila. He initially claimed to have adopted the dog from a Mexican rescue centre a few weeks earlier, intending to bond with her during a holiday in the UK.
However, the NCA’s investigation uncovered glaring inconsistencies in his story, including over £3,000 spent on shipping the dog without booking a return trip. Samano Galas’ frequently changing travel plans further raised suspicions.
He later confessed to importing class A drugs, worth £800,000 into the UK, and was sentenced to six years and four months in prison at Winchester Crown Court.
Steve Dann, Chief Operating Officer at Border Force, added: ‘This is a significant seizure and demonstrates how Border Force work with different teams at Heathrow Airport and the National Crime Agency to stop these toxic drugs from hitting our streets in the first place.’
Since her arrival, Camila has been under the care of the reception centre’s staff. Darren Barr, NCA senior manager, commented: ‘This was a cynical attempt to bring hundreds of thousands of pounds of class A drugs into the UK.’
‘While Samano Galas now faces prison, the story will have a happier ending for his unwitting accomplice Camila, who will spend the rest of her life in a happy home,’ said Barr.
The head of Animal Welfare at LHR, Jake Holliday, said: ‘We decided to foster Camila while the NCA investigation was ongoing to ensure that she was given the love she deserved.
‘It quickly became apparent that she was a friendly, affectionate girl who thrived off meeting new people. Now, after many months, it’s been confirmed that Camila can go home with one of our animal welfare officers, who she adores.’
‘We will miss her dearly – not least because her office antics kept us in hysterics – but we are so glad she will be looked after by someone who has been there with her since she first arrived.’
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Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina.
He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.
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