x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

A dog of the law

Brazil's drug lords set out to silence a leading police informant.

The Rio de Janeiro police informant known as "Boss" is on the front lines of Brazil's brutal struggle against the drug gangs of the city's slums. Boss has led the way to some big drug busts.

So it is, in a sense, no surprise that drug lords in Manguinhos, a violent favela, or poor neighbourhood, have now put a price on Boss' head - except that the head in question has a long muzzle, a cold nose and the black fur of a Labrador retriever.

Police say they recently intercepted a radio message from a drug chief, ordering underlings to silence Boss forever. This kind of threat is a first, police say, in the 67 years they've been using sniffer dogs.

In response, the police have now tightened security, assigning nine officers to guard the 5-year-old police pooch, which is said to be the most effective of the 68 canine cops the force uses to sniff out drugs.

It's hard to say who will be feeling sillier, the policemen assigned to guard Boss or a hit man sent to rub him out.

The drug trade engenders bloodshed, despair and poverty, and so is not really a laughing matter. But law enforcement must always be resourceful - if the drug lord of Manguinhos can't be caught with a dope shipment, perhaps he can at least be convicted of cruelty to animals.