Partner Find Drugs at Texas Border Crossing
By Sgt. Troy M. Ruby
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif.(10/13/2000) Miramar's
Provost Marshals Office supported the war on drugs through the diligent
effort of one Marine and his dog. They recently completed a temporary
duty assignment to support the Customs Service agency along the
United States border.
Lance Cpl. William Abbott poses with his partner
Paco, next to 416 pounds of marijuana. They found these drugs
hidden in the trunk of a car at the El Paso border crossing.
( Photo by: Sgt. Troy M. Ruby)
Lance Cpl. William Abbott, military police officer, shows
some of the drugs he and his drug dog, Paco found in the tire
of a car.
( Photo by: courtesy of Lance Cpl. William
Lance Cpl. William Abbott and his partner Paco, a military working
dog, made drug seizures totaling over 3,100 pounds of marijuana
when they were temporarily assigned to the El Paso, Texas, international
border, as part of a support program with the USCS. While there,
they worked side by side with Customs officers, doing vehicle inspections
and making seizures.
"The seizures came in spurts. One day, we made three in one
day and there were times when I would go a week without one,"
said Abbott. "It averaged out to be about every other day that
we would make a seizure. We had one bust in particular where we
apprehended 416 pounds of marijuana in the trunk of a car."
Abbott isn't the first Marine to assist in patrolling the borders.
"Several times a year, U.S. Customs solicits military support
on their border crossings," said Sgt. William Pine, Miramar
kennel master. "They have so many cars (crossing) every day
that they just can't handle the load by themselves, so they need
extra help from the military."
This request is sent military-wide and several dog teams from each
of the branches of the military go for about three months to support
them. The duty takes the teams to the international borders in California,
Texas, Mexico and Arizona.
This additional duty provides a good training opportunity that
these Marines couldn't get anywhere else.
"Having Abbott and Paco working the border was great training
for both of them. They were able to do drug seizures where the drugs
were hidden in tires, secret compartments, gas tanks, seizures that
we might not get to see on base," continued Pine. "Now
Abbott will be holding classes for the rest of the dog handlers.
He will be able to use his experiences in Texas to show us different
hiding places and searching techniques that will makes us all more
effective at our jobs."
Abbott learned these skills while doing his routine job guarding
the border. A typical day found every vehicle going through a checkpoint
where an inspector asks them various questions about their time
in Mexico; why they were there, what they did while they were there,
and other questions. During the questioning, the driver is being
evaluated to see if he is excessively nervous, which could indicate
that he is attempting to transport illegal drugs over the border.
Each station also has a computer that runs the vehicles license
plate number through a program that brings up the history of that
"We had a guy who tried to bring a truck across the border
that we found out, through the computer, that the driver was involved
in a shooting with a narcotics agent. During the altercation, the
driver had stepped out of the truck and gunned down the agent with
an AK-47. He was arrested right away and it was all because of the
computer," said Abbott. After the initial discussion with the
driver, the inspector has the option of either letting the car pass
or referring it for closer inspection, said Abbott.
"We searched random vehicles that were referred in for various
reasons. If they want K-9 to run the car, we run it and do a very
through inspection that will hopefully yield results," said
The hiding places are as numerous as the locations in a car, said
Abbott. Inside tires, quarter panels, ceilings, gas tanks, false
glove compartments, underneath false floorboards or inside the door
"I personally had a pickup truck where they raised the bed
and packed the whole bed. It never ceases to amaze me just where
they put the drugs," said Abbott. "Sometimes they even
try to tow a vehicle across the border claiming they are taking
it to be fixed, but it is loaded with marijuana. They will stop
at nothing to get the drugs into the United States."
In recognition of his and Paco's seizures in Texas, Abbott has
been nominated for a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
"Abbott has done a great job since he got here in November
1999. His dog has actually had more drug busts than all the other
dogs on base combined. We have five dogs and Paco alone has 14 busts.
He has a great dog and they, as partners, have performed above and
beyond expectations," said Pine.