Approximately $1 million worth of heroin was discovered in a dog’s crate this past weekend.
A shepherd-mix arrived at JFK airport in New York City from Puerto Rico on Friday and was picked up by Carlos Betancourt-Morales of Carmel, New York. While pushing the crate on a rolling cart, he was stopped by police, according to District Attorney Richard A. Brown’s office.
The crate was confiscated, and the next day officers got a warrant to search it. Under a false bottom, 10 bricks of heroin, weighing approximately 22 pounds, were discovered with the Nike swoosh and a five-point star stamped on them.
Betancourt-Morales was arrested, along with Samuel Seabrooks of the Bronx. The two had reportedly met prior to picking up the dog at an IHOP.
They have been charged with first-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and second-degree conspiracy.
While the dog has been taken in by the ASPCA, some rescues who depend on airplanes and airports to transfer stray and shelter dogs from outside the country are concerned this could have implications
“The people that perpetrated this crime have done potentially irrevocable damage to the work of every responsible rescuer in Puerto Rico,” says Chrissy Beckles, founder and president of The Sato Project, a rescue organization that saves strays in Puerto Rico by finding them homes in the U.S. “It not only placed an innocent animal in great danger, but by associating rescuing with criminal activity, it undermines the incredibly hard work that The Sato Project and other organizations have put into developing their rescue programs and to saving thousands of dogs’ lives.”
Beckles hasn’t yet spoken to the airlines, but she plans on meeting with various cargo account managers this coming week to discuss the issue and do whatever is needed to ensure rescue groups like hers can continue bringing dogs into the U.S. “The Sato Project will work with the airlines to comply with whatever is asked of us going forward to allow us to continue our mission.”