The fearsome drug cartels that are ravaging Colombia have a new target in their sights: an extremely efficient drug sniffing dog. Sombra, which means “shadow” in English, is a 6-year-old German shepherd that works as a drug-detection dog with the Colombian National Police. According to reports, Colombia’s dominant drug crew has put a price of up to 200 million Colombian pesos on the dog’s head, amounting to roughly $70,000 in U.S. currency.
Sombra came to Colombian law enforcement from same region of the country that’s home to the city of Medellin, where many of Colombia’s notorious drug cartels of the 1980s and 1990s were based. Her day consists of searching through thousands of pieces of luggage and packages in Colombia’s ports and airports along the country’s Gulf Coast for the scents that she’s been trained to find.
To date, Sombra has been responsible for the seizure of at least nine tons of illicit drugs and the evidence found has led to more than 200 arrests. In March 2016, Sombra uncovered a container of banana boxes that held 2,958 kilograms of cocaine hydrochloride destined for Belgium. In May 2017, another shipment heading to Belgium containing 1.1 tons of cocaine was discovered by Sombra. Last June, she made two spectacular finds; one of 5.3 tons of cocaine, then another of four more tons.
The narcotics police regularly post about Sombra and her accomplishments on Twitter. She has twice been awarded the Wilson Quintero medal, awarded for critical contributions to the fight against drug trafficking. The Colombian press has even dubbed Sombra “the terror” of drug traffickers.
According to police intelligence, the Urabeños, also known as the Gulf Clan, is the cartel that put the price on Sombra’s head. The Urabeños operate along Colombia’s northwest coast and have created the country’s largest criminal organization by taking on all rivals. Under their leader, a former paramilitary guerrilla turned drug trafficker named Dairo Antonio Úsuga, the cartel has earned billions of dollars through the drug trade, extortion, illegal mining, and smuggling.
For her safety, General Jorge Nieto, head of the national police, has ordered the dog transferred outside the Urabeños’ territory on the coast. Police say she will now be working at Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport accompanied by her usual handler, as well as extra officers to improve her safety.