AWARDS

N.P.C.A. Member Awards*

 

The National Police Canine Association is proud of its members accomplishments.

These members were selected from nominations from their peers, for acts above and beyond the call of duty.

 2016 Case of the Year Awards

2016 Patrol Case of the Year

Officer Mike Redden and K9 Bram, Mesa Police Department, AZ

During the evening hours of May 25, 2016, the Arizona Department of Public Safety received several calls reporting an active shooter along the Beeline Highway northeast of the Phoenix/Mesa valley.  Several callers reported seeing a male subject who was armed with an assault rifle or “machine gun”, and the subject was actively shooting at passing vehicles.  Additional reports revealed two passing motorists had been hit by gunfire. The first was grazed by a bullet on the head, and the second was shot in the leg.  Fortunately, both victims survived their injuries.

DPS dispatched several units to the area and requested assistance from the surrounding agencies.  Officers from Arizona DPS, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, Fort McDowell Indian Reservation Police Department, Salt River/Pima Indian Police Department, and the Mesa Police Department responded.  One of the responding DPS vehicles was struck by gun fire as it arrived in the area.  Additional reports indicated the armed suspect stole a vehicle at gun point from a gas station near the Fort McDowell Casino.  After stealing the vehicle, the suspect was seen driving northeast along the highway and further into the desert.

Officer Michael Redden of the Mesa Police Department’s K9 Unit responded to the area along with Mesa SWAT officers and the Mesa Police Department’s Air Unit.  When Officer Redden arrived in the area he joined Arizona DPS Troopers and MCSO Deputies who were checking the welfare of potential victims in the area.

A short time later a vehicle matching the description of the stolen vehicle was reported to be seen in a ditch further up the highway in a desolate desert area.  By this time, Arizona DPS SWAT was on scene, but they did not have a canine unit.  Officer Redden and his K9 partner, Bram, volunteered to integrate with DPS SWAT and loaded into their armored vehicle.  They responded to the area where the vehicle was last seen.  Meanwhile, the Mesa Air Unit located the vehicle off the roadway and in a ditch.  The Air Unit could not see if the vehicle was occupied or not.  Officer Redden and DPS SWAT responded to the area.  When they arrived, they located the vehicle deep in a ditch and off the roadway.  Officer Redden deployed K9 Bram and released him to clear the vehicle.  K9 Bram did not locate or alert to anyone in the vehicle or in the immediate area.  At that point, Officer Redden and DPS SWAT officers moved up to manually clear the vehicle.  The vehicle was unoccupied, but they found an AR-15 rifle, several rounds of ammunition and pieces of body armor in the vehicle.  The location of the suspect was unknown, but they knew he had to be close by.

A very short time later the Mesa Air Unit located the suspect approximately 100 yards away in the desert.  The suspect was lying on the ground near a large bush and in an elevated position.  The air crew reported seeing the suspect move, but they could not tell if he was still armed or not.  The air crew kept the suspect in sight while Officer Redden and DPS SWAT officers formulated a plan to approach and contact him.  By this time, they knew the suspect had already shot at least two people, and a responding police vehicle.  They knew the suspect was likely armed and he was currently hiding in a position of tactical advantage.  Officer Redden knew the inherent and likely imminent risk, but he also knew the suspect had to be taken into custody before he started shooting again.  Officer Redden decided to approach the suspect in the desert putting his own safety at very serious risk.

Officer Redden and a team of DPS SWAT officers started moving through the desert towards the suspect with K9 Bram leading the way.  They moved very quietly under the cover of darkness using a “Stealth to contact” tactic.  Officer Redden used his dog and guidance from the Air Unit to pin point the suspect’s location.  Once Officer Redden was certain K9 Bram was in odor and had located the suspect’s general location, he paused briefly to consider the best course of action to contact the suspect.  There was virtually no cover as they were in the open desert and the suspect was in an elevated position giving him a very clear tactical advantage.  For that reason, Officer Redden made the decision to send K9 Bram to apprehend the suspect without making any announcements.  Officer Redden did this because he did not want to make any noise and alert the suspect to the location of the team.  Officer Redden commanded K9 Bram to apprehend the suspect and released the tension on his long leash.  K9 Bram ran towards a large bush.  K9 Bram quickly located and engaged the suspect on the opposite side of the bush.  K9 Bram was now biting the suspect’s lower, right leg.  The suspect immediately started yelling and screaming.  Knowing K9 Bram was successfully distracting the suspect, Officer Redden and the SWAT officers started closing on the suspect.  As Officer Redden got closer he could see the suspect was actively fighting with K9 Bram.  The suspect was punching Bram on the head and at one point he reached down and tried to pry Bram’s jaws open.  K9 Bram released his bite on the suspect’s leg and re-bit him on the shoulder/neck area. This momentarily pushed the suspect back to the ground.  However, Officer Redden could see the suspect quickly started resisting again.  The suspect was actively pushing, and punching at K9 Bram as he started working himself into a position on his hands and knees.  Fearing the armed suspect would be able to engage officers if he were allowed to get to his feet, Officer Redden joined the fight and helped K9 Bram subdue the suspect.  DPS SWAT officers also assisted.  They were able to force the suspect back to the ground and quickly secure him in handcuffs.  Once the suspect was secured in handcuffs, Officer Redden commanded K9 Bram to release his bite.

Once the suspect was in custody, officers searched the area.  They discovered the suspect had been armed with a handgun and he had several rounds of ammunition.  He was also wearing body armor. At one point the suspect commented he had been caught completely by surprise when K9 Bram located and bit him.

The suspect refused to make any statements or talk to the officers.  However, as he was being transported to the hospital to treat his dog bite injuries, the suspect did make one very revealing statement.  The suspect stated it was his intention to shoot and kill as many responding police officers as possible.

 2016 Runner up Patrol Case of the Year

Officer Matt Hashagen and K9 Fall, Shawnee KS Police Department, MO

On January 6th, 2016 at about 2156 hours, Officer Hashagen was dispatched to assist a Lenexa Officer that attempted to stop a vehicle and was shot at. The suspect vehicle made two U-Turns and shot at the officer twice. Radio traffic indicated that the suspect vehicle was fleeing and then both occupants fled on foot after wrecking their vehicle.

The Lenexa Officers advised the suspects had fled the area on foot south bound. Since there were three police dogs on the scene, it was decided each canine team would take a designated portion of the area to be searched as to not get in each other’s way as they all searched southbound. Officer Hashagen was to work on the west side of Charles Street searching the fronts and between houses moving south. The original plan was to not travel into the back yards of the homes on Charles Street because a Lenexa Canine Handler was searching the back yards in the area between Charles Street and Charles Court. Before beginning the search, Officer Hashagen gave a series of three canine warnings. After there was no response, Fall was given the command to track. Canine Fall was displaying good tracking behavior by keeping his nose to the ground and moving forward. At two points in the track, Officer Hashagen observed what appeared to be fresh foot prints in patchy areas of snow on the ground. Canine Fall passed within a couple of feet of these foot prints as he continued tracking south near the backs of the homes. Even without seeing the foot prints in the snow, it was apparent to Officer Hashagen Canine Fall was actively tracking a suspect. When they got to an area between 7330 and 7402 Charles, Fall began to slow down and he turned to the east to go between the houses. His head lifted from the ground and his nose went into the air. Fall had not acted like that at any of the other house leading up to that point. Officer Hashagen believed the suspect(s) were near their area.

They were near the northeast corner of 7402 Charles Street when Officer Hashagen heard another officer say that he saw someone under a bush about 10 feet away from their location. Prior to this, Canine Fall was displaying behavior that lead Officer Hashagen to believe a suspect was near. When the yelling by Officers began at the suspect under the bush, another officer stepped out from the southeast corner of 7330 Charles. Officer Hashagen moved toward the officer and took Fall off the lead and directed him toward the bushes and bay window area. Officer Hashagen could hear an officer saying something about there being a second suspect hiding in the bushes. Officer Hashagen commanded Fall into the bushes and to bite the suspect. Officer Hashagen was not going to order Fall off the bite until the suspect came out to the officers. Officer Hashagen could see Fall biting his right arm area. One suspect was then taken into custody by the other Officers as Officer Hashagen put Fall back on a lead.

After the two suspects were taken into custody, Officer Hashagen walked the back yards of the homes they had tracked in looking for the handgun that was used to shoot at the Lenexa Police Officer. Once back at 73 Terr. and Charles, it was decided to search the north side of 73 Terr. in case a third suspect had fled to the north from the suspect vehicle. Starting at about 12122 w 73 Terr, Officer Hashagen took Canine Fall west bound in the front (south) yards of homes. They went to about 12204 w 73 Terr.. There was no tracks established in this area. They then moved to the back yard of 12204 w 73 Terr. and worked east bound in the ravine area to 12212 w 73 Terr. No suspect tracks were developed.

Finally, Officer Hashagen was asked to respond with Lenexa Officer King to the area of 75th and Westgate to conduct an article search for a gun. The area of 75th Street and Westgate was chosen as a starting as this was where the suspect vehicles tires had been flattened. Officer King searched with Canine Wrecker east bound on 75th Street on the south side of the road. Canine Fall and Officer Hashagen searched on the north side of 75th Street. Once we got to Charles, he searched the west side of the road. Officer King searched the east side of Charles. We stopped at 7402 Charles where the suspects had been located and areas north of there had previously been searched with the police canines. No evidence items were located in these areas.

Officer Hashagen later responded to the station and made contact with one of the suspects. The suspect was asked where he had been bitten by Canine Fall. The suspect held up his right arm area and allowed me to take photographs of his right forearm and right hand. He said that he had also be bitten on the left hand. All of these wounds were photographed. He was confirmed as the shooter.

 

2016 Detection Case of the Year

Sgt. Jarrod Winfrey and K9 Gemma, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, AZ

On December 21, 2016, Sgt. Winfrey was monitoring traffic along I-40 in the area of Ashfork, Arizona.  While doing so, Sgt. Winfrey noted a vehicle travelling eastbound at the posted speed limit.  The vehicle was occupied by one female driver.  When the female saw Sgt. Winfrey, she suddenly swerved from the fast lane, into the slow lane and partially onto the shoulder, crossing the rumble strip.  The driver then corrected and swerved back left, causing her vehicle to cross the dotted line and partially into the fast lane again.  Simultaneously, the female driver decreased her speed dramatically.

After making these observations, Sgt. Winfrey conducted a traffic stop and contacted the female driver.  During the traffic stop, the female told Sgt. Winfrey she had traveled from Arkansas to Santa Monica, CA where she spent a week visiting family.  Sgt. Winfrey discovered the vehicle was a rental and reviewed the rental agreement.  While doing so, Sgt. Winfrey discovered a discrepancy with the female’s statement.  He discovered the vehicle had been rented only four days earlier, and during that time the female had already traveled from Arkansas to California.  She was currently on her way back to Arkansas.  Sgt. Winfrey suspected the female was transporting narcotics so he asked for consent to search the vehicle.  The female driver denied consent to search.  However, she did consent to having a drug dog sniff the exterior of her vehicle.

Sgt. Winfrey deployed K9 Gemma to sniff the vehicle.  During the sniff, K9 Gemma alerted to the rear, passenger side door.  A search of the vehicle was conducted based on the K9 alert.  During the search, Sgt. Winfrey located 12.5 pounds of cocaine and 2.5 pounds of heroin hidden inside both rear doors.

The female driver was ultimately arrested and charged with transportation of narcotic drugs (two counts), possession of narcotic drugs for sale (two counts), and possession of drug paraphernalia (2 counts).  Sgt. Winfrey passed on information from this stop/arrest to DEA in California and Arkansas.  The DEA hasidentified a cartel using young, attractive females as couriers and this case has contributed to their on-going investigation.

Sgt. Winfrey’s observations and subsequent investigation in this case led to a significant seizure of both cocaine and heroin.  Furthermore, the arrest of the female courier has contributed to an on-going, interstate investigation.

 2016 Runner up Detection Case of the Year

Deputy Michael Kennard and K9 Duke, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office, CA

On October 6th at approximately 1430hrs, Deputy Kennard and Duke, were assigned to the Los Angeles Interagency Metropolitan Police Apprehension Crime Task Force (L.A. IMPACT). On this day two vehicles and their occupants were under surveillance. As the vehicles drove away from the surveillance, traffic stops were attempted. Vehicle one yielded and pulled over. Vehicle two failed to yield and a short pursuit ensued. The driver of vehicle two finally stopped and fled on foot. After a short foot pursuit, the driver was taken into custody. 

Deputy Kennard and Duke responded to vehicle one. The driver of the vehicle refused to give consent to have his vehicle searched. The vehicle was parked at the right curb and the driver had left the driver and passenger windows rolled down.  Deputy Kennard had Duke conducted a free air sniff around the outside of the vehicle. As Duke walked around the vehicle, Deputy Kennard immediately noticed a change in behavior in Duke when he reached the passenger door.  Without direction from Deputy Kennard, Duke jumped up and placed his front paws on the open window sill and then jumped fully into the vehicle. After entering the vehicle, Duke immediately alerted to the center console. Based on Duke’s alert, the vehicle was searched, the center console was removed and 5 kilos of cocaine were recovered. 

Deputy Kennard and Duke responded to vehicle two. Although this vehicle was known to be involved, it was believed to be a decoy vehicle. The investigators in this case believed the narcotics recovered from vehicle one were the entire load. Deputy Kennard deployed Duke to sniff the second vehicle. When Duke entered the vehicle (A van) Deputy Kennard immediately noticed a change in behavior of his K9 partner. Duke jumped over the seats to the rear cargo area of the van and he alerted to a large cooler and a large sealed paint bucket. Upon closer inspection, 60 pounds of methamphetamine and 4 kilos of cocaine were recovered from the cooler and paint bucket.

Case Summaries for Fourth Quarter 2017

 

Case Summaries for Third Quarter 2017

North Central Region

Det. Antonio Garcia and K9 Zina, Kansas City MO Police Department, MO

On 09/29/2017 at 0845 hours, Det. Garcia along with members of The Mowin Task Force were conducting drug interdiction activities at The Greyhound Bus Lines, 1101 Troost, Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri 64106.
They observed the bus arrive, which originates out of Los Angeles, CA a known source city for illegal narcotics. Members of our squad have made numerous narcotic arrests and seizures from this bus route.

Det. Garcia then responded with K-9 Zina to conduct a sniff check of the luggage under the bus in the luggage bins of the bus. Upon Zina coming into contact with two large grey colored hard sided suitcases that were located in the last or third luggage bin of the bus on the passenger side of the bus, K-9 Zina immediately sat in between the two grey colored suitcases alerting to the odor of narcotics in or about the two grey colored hard sided suitcases. Det. Garcia then advised members of my squad that K-9 Zina had alerted to the two suitcases and to watch them so that they were not removed from the luggage bin of the bus. He then responded to the driver’s side of the bus to finish conducting a K-9 sniff of the remaining luggage. K-9 Zina again pulled him to the two suitcases in the third luggage bin and again sat next to them.

Det. Garcia then secured K-9 Zina in his vehicle and was contacted by Det. Mark Merrill who stated that he and Det. Mike Nelson had located the subject that owned the suitcases and were attempting to speak with him but stated he did not speak English. They requested that Det. Garcia respond to the loading platform to translate for them. He responded and identified himself to him as a police officer by showing him his police identification card and badge. Det. Garcia asked the subject if he could talk to him, to which he stated “Yes”. He explained to the suspect that he was a Detective with The Drug Enforcement Unit and that they talked to passengers who could be transporting anything illegal. He then asked the suspect if he had any luggage to which he stated that he had two suitcases checked under the bus. Det. Garcia asked the suspect if they could search both suitcases to which he stated “Yes”.
As Det. Nelson was conducting a search of both suitcases he advised Det. Garcia that the suitcase was extremely heavy and believed that there could be narcotics under the hard plastic liner. Det. Garcia then asked the suspect in Spanish if they could cut and remove the hard plastic liner, to which he stated “Yes”.

They were able to feel under the liner and could feel a large bundle under the liner. The suspect was placed under investigation arrest for possession of a controlled substance and escorted to the back of the bus station. A total of four bundles wrapped in grey duct tape were located in between the liners which had been manufactured inside of the two suitcases. Det. Garcia observed several screws used to secure the liner which did not match and several were wood screws and sheet metal screws. The total weight of the four bundles was 19.7 pounds and tested positive for Methamphetamine/ICE.

Officer David Cochran and K9 Falco, Fargo Police Department, ND

On 08-22-17, Officer Cochran, was initially requested to head to the area of Comstock, MN for a felony motor vehicle pursuit. Clay County Sergeant Schroeder attempted to stop a truck which was called in as suspicious and possibly involved in a burglary. The driver, fled in the truck along with her passenger.
This pursuit eventually entered Cass County and continued West and into Richland County ND, where it was spiked with road spikes. The driver eventually lost control of the truck and crashed in rural Richland County.
Officer Cochran was dispatched around 00:13 hours and arrived on the scene of the crash around 00:38 hours. He spoke with Sergeant Schroeder, who stated he did not get a look at the driver and did not know if there was a passenger. Further, Sergeant Schroeder did not know or see which way the driver and or passenger fled. Officer Cochran then spoke with Richland County, who requested the use of his K9 partner to attempt a track to locate the suspect or suspects. Minnesota State Patrol, Moorhead Police, and Richland County Deputies assisted in setting up a perimeter. Clay County Sergeant Schroeder and Deputy Jorgenson were used as his cover officers.
Officer Cochran first checked the area with his FLIR in hopes of picking up a heat signature, so they could find them without a track. Not seeing anything with his FLIR, he went to his squad car and gave two K9 warning over the PA system at approximately 00:40 hours. Officer Cochran elected to use Falco, to attempt to locate the suspects. He began to cut the area to begin looking for a possible track. He cut Falco into the wood line, which was about 50 feet from where the truck crashed. Falco located the driver at approximately 00:46, who had been laying prone between some metal barriers and shrubs.
Not knowing at this point if there were additional suspects, Officer Cochran continued to cut for another track. Falco located a track on the passenger side of the truck heading south into the woods. As they entered the woods, he began yelling numerous times and throughout the track, “police K9, come out now or you’re going to get bit”. The track went several hundred yards into the woods. After a while, he got a negative and located a double back heading west towards a ravine. The ravine was very steep and Falco continued tracking across and down this ravine. At some point Officer Cochran started getting hung up on some trees and uneven terrain and fell down a good distance down the ravine. He was unable to hang onto the leash at this point, and Falco continued down the ravine, and crossed a small creek. Officer Cochran got back onto his feet and saw K9 apprehend the other suspect.
After further investigation they determined that the first suspect apprehended was the driver. She was arrested and agreed to go back to Clay County. She was medically cleared for her injuries at Essentia Health and had an active Cass County Warrant for Simple Assault. She was booked into the Clay County Jail for felony fleeing in a motor vehicle.
The passenger was arrested by Richland County Deputies for failure to halt and was medically treated at St. Francis Hospital in Breckenridge, MN. He was booked into the Richland County Jail.

 

Detective Steve Miller and K9 Rocky, Springfield MO Police Department, MO

Throughout the summer of 2017, the Springfield Police Department’s Narcotics Enforcement Team investigated a subject who was known for distributing large quantitates of methamphetamine. Multiple Search Warrants were executed, and countless man hours and surveillance were poured into this investigation. Through all the traditional means of investigative techniques, we were unable to seize the quantity of methamphetamine that this target was capable of.
On August 30th, 2017, through surveillance, the target was observed leaving a hotel and traveling out of the Springfield area. The target was followed to the Kansas City area where he was seen conducting a hand to hand transaction with another male at a truck stop. The target began his travels back to the Springfield area. Detectives maintained surveillance during the trip back to Springfield. The Missouri State Highway Patrol assisted by conducting a traffic stop on the target vehicle.
The occupants of the vehicle refused consent to search the vehicle. Det. Miller deployed his K9 Rocky around the exterior of the vehicle. Rocky indicated on the passenger side door of the target car. Rocky was then deployed on the interior of the vehicle where he indicated on a black backpack that was in the floor board where the main target was sitting. 6.6 pounds of methamphetamine was located in that backpack belonging to the suspect.
Further investigation throughout this vehicle stop led to evidence linking the target to a source in the Kanas City area. They used this evidence to assist the DEA in the Kansas City area with a wiretap to identify the source multiple targets and the main source of supply.
This K9 seizure resulted in approximately 8 suspects tied up in the local conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine along with multiple indictments in the near future springing from the wiretap in the Kansas City area.
The total seizures in reference to this case were 12 pounds of methamphetamine, 3 guns, $51,689, and a new 2017 Harley Davidson Motorcycle (paid in full with drug proceeds)

 

Sgt. Chris Rasmussen and K9 Jax, Springfield Police Department, MO

On 08/24/2017 Sgt. Rasmussen was assisting the Springfield Police Department Special Response Team (SRT) concerning a warrant where a suspect in a past rape was thought to be located. The suspect was identified and was suspected of hiding at the location which was also identified as his residence. The assistance Sgt. Rasmussen was providing was utilization of his patrol canine Jax. The use of Jax was to conduct a soft search of the residence to possibly locate the suspect, as he was suspected to be hiding in a position of ambush within the residence. Other information obtained by officers on scene was the suspect was possibly armed with a long gun.
After several hours attempting to get the suspect to respond to Negotiator Officers on scene with no success, SRT asked if he could deploy Jax into the crawl space area of the residence. The crawl space was accessed on the south side of the house through a small opening. Sgt. Rasmussen could see into the crawl space which was only approximately two to three feet tall throughout the entire sub structure of the residence. At the opening of the crawl space, Sgt. Rasmussen gave a loud announcement stating “Springfield Police Canine, anyone inside the crawl space or residence, you are under arrest, speak to me now or I will send my dog and he will bite you.” After giving this announcement he waited quietly for a response. After waiting approximately thirty seconds with no response, herepeated the command. After the second command, he again waited quietly for a response, however he heard no response. Sgt. Rasmussen then gave Jax his command to search the crawl space.
Jax searched for approximately one to two minutes before disappearing from his sight behind some duct work located towards the north portion of the crawlspace. Sgt. Rasmussen could still hear Jax working the area, at which point he heard a male’s voice start yelling “he’s biting me.” Sgt. Rasmussen began giving loud commands to the male, who was later confirmed to be the suspect. The suspect started crawling towards Sgt. Rasmussen location through the duct work. He could see that Jax was biting the suspect on his left lower arm, but he could not see his hand as he had it concealed between his legs. The suspect crawled to the opening of the crawlspace and his location, still not showing his hand until other officers assisting him were able to pull him from the crawlspace. After the suspect was out of the crawlspace, Sgt. Rasmussen commanded Jax to release his bite. The suspect was then moved away from his location and placed into custody by other officers on scene.

Northwest Region

Sgt. Matthew Patella and K9 Cairo, Greeley Police Department, CO

The following occurred on a shift from August 15 through August 16, 2017.
The night started when a officer made a traffic stop on a known drug dealer and called for Officer McNerney to do a narcotics sniff. McNerney ran Cairo and he did alert and indicate on the vehicle which resulted in a seizure of over 10.2 grams of meth in the car. This offender was out on bond for a narcotic weapon charge he had obtained a week earlier.
Later that evening the Evans Police Department called for Officer McNerney to come and assist them on a narcotics sniff around a vehicle. When he arrived, the Evans officer had reasonable suspicion built up and asked if he could run Cairo on a narcotics sniff. Officer McNerney ran Cairo and again he alerted on the vehicle. The Evans officers found over 60.6 grams of meth, 2.5 grams of Cocaine and over $10,000 in cash
While Officer McNerney was finishing up with the Evans call, one of their Greeley officers called him back to the downtown area of Greeley. Officer Kauffman and Officer Gates had conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle believed to be associated with multiple property crimes that have occurred in Greeley and Evans. Officer McNerney was on scene when the stop was made and used a free air sniff to deploy Cairo around the vehicle. Cairo alerted and indicated to the odor of narcotics coming from the vehicle. Inside the vehicle, they found drug paraphernalia related to meth with meth residue all over the paraphernalia and they also found a stolen gun. During the interview process, the suspect admitted to investigators he had illegally entered multiple vehicles earlier in the morning and admitted to stealing property from houses and other cars over the previous weeks in both Greeley and Evans. Through this investigation, an individual was identified who was buying and trading stolen items and a search warrant was obtained for his residence. The warrant was served that night/early morning by Greeley Police investigators, Weld County Drug Task Force detectives, and investigators from the Evans Police Department in which additional stolen property and evidence was located.
Through the research and follow up investigation later conducted by detectives, more than 25 victims were identified in both Evans and Greeley, and 55 burglary and auto prowl cases were cleared. The suspects were charged with over 40 different Criminal violations.
After clearing from this call Officer McNerney responded to a call where a murder suspect had been wounded at the scene of the incident. Officer McNerney was told the suspect had left a blood trail that officers were attempting to follow. The sergeant asked if he could attempt a track on the trail where the suspect had lost the blood. Officer McNerney quickly put together a joint agency tracking team using Loveland Police Department’s K9 team and himself with Cairo. They tracked the blood trail over a couple of miles using both dogs.
Detectives advised them of a house of interest that was in the direction of the blood trail they were following. They lost the blood trail about two blocks away, but the dogs kept pulling them to the house of interest. Once they got to the house, they quickly did a perimeter sweep around the house and discovered blood all over the basement window well. They set up a perimeter and held the house while, SWAT was called in and the suspect was found and arrested.

West Coast Region

Detective Ken Price and K9 Charlie, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office, CA

On Sunday July 16th, 2017, at approx. 1000 hrs, a Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy that was working the Domestic Highway Enforcement Team in the Gorman area observed a grey Dodge Nitro SUV traveling northbound Interstate 5. The Deputy observed a vehicle code violation and conducted a traffic stop. The driver and registered owner of the vehicle was unlicensed and consented to a search of the vehicle. Detective Price arrived on the scene with his K9 partner Charlie. Detective Price has Charlie do a sniff of the vehicle and noticed Charlie had a change of behavior and seemed to get very frustrated, as if could not get close enough to the source of what he was sniffing for, around the rear bumper and under where the spare tire sits. Detective Price let Charlie into the vehicle to sniff the interior. As Charlie was sniffing the back deck/storage area, he alerted to a hole in the floor where the spare tire crank goes. Detective Price searched this area and Charlie’s alert lead to a discovery of a false compartment under the floor that contained 20 packages of Meth totaling approx 35 lbs..

Case Summaries for Second Quarter 2017

North Central Region

Det. Antonio Garcia and K9 Zina, Kansas City MO Police Department, MO

On May 09, 2017 at 1320 hours, Det. Garcia along with other members of The Drug Interdiction Unit and Agent Jason Poniatowski of HSI were conducting drug interdiction activities at The Greyhound Bus Lines in Kansas City, MO. They observed the bus arrive which originates out of New York, NY and goes on to Las Vegas, NV. Members of The Drug Interdiction Unit have made numerous seizures from this bus route. Det. Garcia responded with K-9 Zina to conduct a sniff check of the luggage under the bus in the luggage bins. K-9 Zina did not alert to any luggage in the bottom luggage bins. After all passengers had exited the bus, Det. Garcia responded with K-9 Zina to the passenger compartment of the bus. Upon K-9 Zina coming into contact with a black suitcase and a tan colored bag that was located in the overhead compartment above seats number 21 and 22 on the driver’s side of the bus, K-9 Zina immediately sat under each bag alerting to the odor of narcotics in or about the black suitcase and the tan colored bag. Det. Garcia did not observe any identification on the black suitcase or the tan colored bag. He left the black suitcase and the tan colored bag in the overhead compartments and advised agent Poniatowski who was on the loading platform that K-9 Zina had alerted to 2 items. They then watched the bus to make sure the black suitcase and the tan colored bag were not removed from the bus. Agent Poniatowski and Det. Garcia boarded the bus prior to passengers boarding the bus and sat in the seats across from the two bags in question. They observed an unknown white male sit in the seat under where the two bags were located that K-9 Zina had alerted to. After all passengers had boarded the bus Agent Poniatowski asked everyone on the bus if the two bags belonged to anyone. No one claimed the bags on the bus and Agent Poniatowski took custody of the two bags and recovered them as abandoned. Agent Poniatowski took both of the bags to the back-luggage area to conduct a search of the bags in attempts to locate any identifying information inside of the two bags. Agent Poniatowski opened both of the bags, at which time Det. Garcia observed the black suitcase to contain two bundles of U.S. currency heat sealed in clear food saver bags in the liner of the suitcase. He also observed the tan colored bag to contain five bundles of U.S. currency heat sealed in clear food saver bags. The way that the U.S. currency was sealed is consistent to that of currency packaged from narcotics proceeds. Agent Poniatowski maintained custody of the U.S. currency. They also located two airline tickets for two passengers in the two bags, and were able to locate a male and a female passenger on the bus with the names that were on the airline tickets. The male and female denied ownership of the currency and would not say who the currency belonged to. Agent Poniatowski seized the U.S. currency.

The U.S. currency was determined to be $214,160.00

Officer Michael Karnes and K9 Charlie, Springfield Police Department, MO

On April 26th, 2017, The Springfield Police Department responded to an injury accident where the driver of a vehicle struck another car and caused physical injury to the victim. The suspect driver fled from the vehicle on foot. Off. Karnes and his K9 Charlie responded to the scene to assist with tracking the subject.

The last known location for the suspect was a heavily traveled area during rush hour. However, Charlie began to track the suspect from the vehicle and northbound behind a business. Off. Karnes and Charlie tracked the suspect west over multiple surface types, wet asphalt, gravel, and grass for over 350 paces. Charlie tracked the suspect to a home in a nearby neighborhood and made an abrupt direction change to the back yard of this residence. Charlie then pulled Off. Karnes to a stack of pallets in the back yard of this residence that was covered with a tarp. Due to PSD Charlie pulling Off. Karnes to the opening of the tarp, Off. Karnes gave loud verbal commands for the suspect to identify himself. The suspect was in fact hiding under the tarp and unveiled himself from the stack of pallets without further incident. The suspect was subsequently taken into custody and arrested on multiple charges.

Officer Mark Wilcox and K9 Dax, Kansas City KS Police Departmetn, KS

On May 9, 2017 shortly after 2200 hours, the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department was dispatched to the 1900 block of South Boeke St., Kansas City, Kansas to investigate a shooting. Upon arrival officers made contact with a male in his twenties that was suffering from a gunshot wound to his back. The male victim directed them to a nearby address where he said there were other shooting victims. Officers responded to that location and found three other individuals who had suffered fatal gunshot wounds and three young children that were left unharmed. The surviving gunshot victim, who officers made initial contact with, was able to identify the shooting suspect by name – Jason Tucker. Officers responded to the 2100 block of North 33rd Street to look for the suspect.

When officers arrived in area, the suspect’s vehicle was located. Two shotguns and numerous additional shotgun shells were seen in the vehicle. When officers approached the house they could see three people on the front porch of the home. When they got closer, a male believed to be Jason Tucker fled the porch and headed toward the back yard of the house. Knowing the extreme severity of the crime and the high probability of the individual being armed, the officers did not chase the suspect into the dimly lit area. The first officers on the scene were quick to establish a perimeter of the area and request assistance from the Kansas City, Kansas Police Departments only canine team.

Officer Mark Wilcox and Canine Dax were off duty when they were requested to respond to the 2100 of North 33rd St.. They arrived at 2306 hours, and were given the description of the suspect who had fled the porch area. Officer Wilcox met with two cover officers who assisted him during the search of the area. After giving a series of verbal warnings for the suspect to surrender, there was no response. Canine Dax was given the command to search backyards in the immediate area. Dax began to show a change of breathing and body posture as they approached waist high grass that led to a four foot chain link fence. Officer Wilcox, believing they were closing in on the suspect’s location, told the back-up officers what he was seeing in his dog and to be prepared for contact with the suspect. At the fence Officer Wilcox gave additional warnings announcing his authority, what he wanted the suspect to do and what would happen if he refused to comply. After there was no response from the suspect, Canine Dax was lifted over the fence and given commands to find the suspect.

Immediately after putting Dax over the fence, Officer Wilcox heard yelling from about five feet on the other side of the fence in the tall grass. Canine Dax located the triple homicide suspect and had bit him on the upper right thigh area. Officer Wilcox warned the suspect not to move. The suspect continued to move and yell before slapping Canine Dax in the head. Dax released his bite on the right leg and then bit the suspect’s left forearm. The suspect was looking at Canine Dax when Officer Wilcox heard him say, “I give up, dog!” Officer Wilcox and the search team climbed over the fence and cautiously approached the suspect. While Canine Dax was still biting the left forearm, Officer Wilcox lifted Dax off the bite to prevent further injury. The suspect was taken into custody without any additional use of force being applied. Medical treatment for the suspect’s injuries was immediately obtained at the scene prior to being taken to the hospital for additional treatment.

Jason Tucker was charged in Wyandotte County, Kansas with three counts of capital murder, attempted burglary and violation of a protection order. At the time of this writing he is being held on $1 million dollar bond.

In August of 2016 the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department reduced the size of their canine unit from three teams to one. In the months that have followed Officer Wilcox and Canine Dax have had approximately seven successful patrol deployments. The deployment described above is typical of the effort Officer Wilcox and Canine Dax put forth to make the City of Kansas City, Kansas a safer place.

Northwest Region

Officer Sean Cuney and K9 Belker, Thornton Police Department, CO

On June 29, 2017, at 2011 hours, Officer Cuney was dispatched to assist officers working a report of suspicious activity in front of Aspen Park. Once Officer Cuney arrived on scene canine Belker alerted while sniffing one of the backpacks and then the other backpack, biting and scratching at the bags. Inside the first backpack was a large amount of suspected Methamphetamine separated into four bags. Three of the bags were air tight food saver style bags and one bag was Ziploc freezer bag. The substance in the four bags was later weighed and had a gross weight of 460.63g, 451.81g, 457.24g, and 460.21g, totaling 1829.89g. Inside the second backpack was a large bag of suspected cocaine and a black handgun.

The trailer was searched after a search warrant was issued. Additional Methamphetamine was recovered. The total amount of Methamphetamine seized was 10 lbs.

All suspected Methamphetamine later tested presumptive positive for Methamphetamine utilizing a TruNarc.

South Central Region

Cpl. Christopher Duhon and K9 King, Calcasieu Sheriff’s Office, LA

On July 9, 2017 at about 0100 hours, Sr. Cpl. Chris Duhon and K9 King responded to assist patrol on a domestic battery by strangulation call. Upon arrival the Victim advised that the Suspect was armed with a handgun in the residence. Patrol units called for the Suspect to exit the residence with his hands up but the Suspect remained quiet in the house with the lights off and did not acknowledge Deputies. Sr. Cpl. Duhon gave three loud verbal warnings and with no response from the Suspect, deployed K9 King into the residence to search and apprehend the Suspect. The Suspect was hiding in the living room 10ft from the door, with a handgun in his hand. K9 King located the Suspect and apprehended him causing the Suspect to drop the gun. Sr. Cpl. Duhon and other deputies entered the residence once the Suspect was apprehended by K9 King. As entry was made Sr. Cpl. Duhon noticed the Suspect striking K9 King in the face, head and body with closed fist. Sr. Cpl. Duhon also noticed the gun was on the floor and the Suspect started choking K9 King by grabbing K9 Kings collar. At no time did K9 King disengage the Suspect or give up the fight. The suspect gave up and started complying with Deputies commands. The Suspect was taken into custody without any harm to Deputies or K9 King. The suspect was booked into the correctional facility for domestic battery by strangulation and animal cruelty.

Case Summaries for First Quarter 2017

North Central Region

Det. Antonio Garcia and K9 Zina, Kansas City MO Police Department, MO

On March 1, 2017 at approximately 0825 hours, Det. Garcia along with other members of The Drug Interdiction Unit were conducting drug interdiction activities at The Greyhound Bus Lines, Kansas City, Missouri. They observed a bus arrive, which originated out of Los Angeles, CA.  Members of The Drug Interdiction Unit have made numerous narcotic arrests and seizures from this bus route. Det. Garcia then responded with K-9 Zina to conduct a sniff check of the luggage under the bus in the luggage bins.  K-9 Zina and Det. Garcia responded to the first luggage bin on the passenger side of the bus. K-9 Zina pulled him toward the first bin and he observed her to be in apparent odor of narcotics.  K-9 Zina was attempting to climb into the luggage bin but was unable to because the luggage bin was full.  Det. Garcia then removed a black and blue colored suitcase from the luggage bin and placed it behind him so that K-9 Zina could climb into the luggage bin.  K-9 Zina then pulled toward the black and blue colored suitcase that he had just placed behind him.  K-9 Zina then immediately sat next to the suitcase alerting to the odor of narcotics in or about the suitcase.  Det. Garcia then had K-9 Zina respond back into the first luggage bin of the bus and upon K-9 Zina coming into contact with a hard-sided purple suitcase, K-9 Zina immediately sat alerting to the odor of narcotics.  Det. Garcia then removed the purple suitcase from the bus and observed it to have a baggage claim ticket in the same name to the first suitcase that K-9 Zina had alerted to.  He then had K-9 Zina respond back to the first luggage bin to complete the search of the remaining luggage.  K-9 Zina came into contact with another large purple hard sided suitcase and immediately sat alerting to the odor of narcotics.  Det. Garcia observed that all three suitcases to have the same phone number listed, so he knew that all three suitcases were related to each other.

Boarding for the bus was called and the driver responded to pull tickets.  Det. Waltman and Det. Atkins stood next to the driver in attempts to match the two tickets to the three suitcases.  No match was found, at which time they boarded the bus and talked to each passenger asking to see their identification in attempts to locate an owner for the three suitcases.  The three suitcases were then taken onto the bus and all passengers were asked if the three suitcases belonged to them.  No one claimed the suitcases and all three were recovered as abandoned.

The three suitcases had a phone number listed on the baggage claim ticket.  The phone number was the same on all three suitcases. Det. Garcia had one of the Detectives call the phone number hoping that they would hear a cell phone ring on the bus.  Det. Garcia then placed the name of on the suitcases into Facebook and was able to locate a picture of a female and male.  The picture matched two suspects that were sitting on the bus, so he was able to place them as the owner of the suitcases.

The three suitcases and the 30 brick shaped bundles were transported to our unit by Det. Smith so that they could be processed.  They observed the three suitcases to have a total of 30 brick shaped bundles.  Det. Garcia cut one of the bundles open and observed it to contain a white powdery substance consistent to that of cocaineFS II Nordke tested two of the bundles using The True Narc and both bricks tested positive for “Cocaine HCL”.  FS II Nordyke and Det. Mast weighed the 30 brick shaped bundles which weighed approximately 72.2 pounds.  FS II Nordyke and Det. Mast cut each bundle open and observed all 30 bundles to contain Cocaine.

Detective Steve Miller and K9 Rocky, Springfield MO Police Department, MO

On January 6th, 2016 at about 2156 hours, Officer Hashagen was dispatched to assist a Lenexa Officer that attempted to stop a vehicle and was shot at. The suspect vehicle made two U-Turns and shot at the officer twice. Radio traffic indicated that the suspect vehicle was fleeing and then both occupants fled on foot after wrecking their vehicle. The Lenexa Officers advised the suspects had fled the area on foot south bound. Since there were three police dogs on the scene, it was decided each canine team would take a designated portion of the area to be searched as to not get in each other’s way as they all searched southbound.  Officer Hashagen was to work on the west side of Charles Street searching the fronts and between houses moving south.  The original plan was to not travel into the back yards of the homes on Charles Street because a Lenexa Canine Handler was searching the back yards in the area between Charles Street and Charles Court.  Before beginning the search, Officer Hashagen gave a series of three canine warnings. After there was no response, Fall was given the command to track.  Canine Fall was displaying good tracking behavior by keeping his nose to the ground and moving forward. At two points in the track, Officer Hashagen observed what appeared to be fresh foot prints in patchy areas of snow on the ground.  Canine Fall passed within a couple of feet of these foot prints as he continued tracking south near the backs of the homes.   Even without seeing the foot prints in the snow, it was apparent to Officer Hashagen Canine Fall was actively tracking a suspect.  When they got to an area between 7330 and 7402 Charles, Fall began to slow down and he turned to the east to go between the houses.  His head lifted from the ground and his nose went into the air.  Fall had not acted like that at any of the other house leading up to that point.  Officer Hashagen believed the suspect(s) were near their area. They were near the northeast corner of 7402 Charles Street when Officer Hashagen heard another officer say that he saw someone under a bush about 10 feet away from their location.  Prior to this, Canine Fall was displaying behavior that lead Officer Hashagen to believe a suspect was near.  When the yelling by Officers began at the suspect under the bush, another officer stepped out from the southeast corner of 7330 Charles.  Officer Hashagen moved toward the officer and took Fall off the lead and directed him toward the bushes and bay window area.  Officer Hashagen could hear an officer saying something about there being a second suspect hiding in the bushes.  Officer Hashagen commanded Fall into the bushes and to bite the suspect. Officer Hashagen was not going to order Fall off the bite until the suspect came out to the officers.  Officer Hashagen could see Fall biting his right arm area.  One suspect was then taken into custody by the other Officers as Officer Hashagen put Fall back on a lead.  After the two suspects were taken into custody, Officer Hashagen walked the back yards of the homes they had tracked in looking for the handgun that was used to shoot at the Lenexa Police Officer.    Once back at 73 Terr. and Charles, it was decided to search the north side of 73 Terr. in case a third suspect had fled to the north from the suspect vehicle.  Starting at about 12122 w 73 Terr, Officer Hashagen took Canine Fall west bound in the front (south) yards of homes.  They went to about 12204 w 73 Terr..  There was no tracks established in this area.  They then moved to the back yard of 12204 w 73 Terr. and worked east bound in the ravine area to 12212 w 73 Terr.  No suspect tracks were developed. Finally, Officer Hashagen was asked to respond with Lenexa Officer King to the area of 75th and Westgate to conduct an article search for a gun.  The area of 75th Street and Westgate was chosen as a starting as this was where the suspect vehicles tires had been flattened.  Officer King searched with Canine Wrecker east bound on 75th Street on the south side of the road.  Canine Fall and Officer Hashagen searched on the north side of 75th Street.  Once we got to Charles, he searched the west side of the road.  Officer King searched the east side of Charles.  We stopped at 7402 Charles where the suspects had been located and areas north of there had previously been searched with the police canines.  No evidence items were located in these areas. Officer Hashagen later responded to the station and made contact with one of the suspects. The suspect was asked where he had been bitten by Canine Fall.  The suspect held up his right arm area and allowed me to take photographs of his right forearm and right hand.  He said that he had also be bitten on the left hand. All of these wounds were photographed. He was confirmed as the shooter.

Officer Mark Wilcox and K9 Dax, Kansas City KS Police Department, KS

On March 20, 2017 at 0130 hours, Officer Wilcox and K9 Dax were paged out by Capt. Howell for a K9 track of a suspect who was shooting at Officer’s during a pursuit and fled after the vehicle had stopped. Upon arrival Capt. Howell advised that Officers from Bonner Springs and KHP, and KCKPD had pursued the vehicle and during the pursuit the male driver had fired shots at the Officer’s. The vehicle came to a stop and the driver pointed a gun towards Sgt. Golden and he returned fire. The suspect then ran north from the vehicle. With Trooper Seacat, and Officer Haffner and one other KCKPD Officer as his cover, Officer Wilcox deployed K9 Dax. Dax began tracking north and then east behind the backyards. They continued north and across the street and Dax went up towards the hill. Once they got up on the hill and Dax began pulling west towards a white ford ranger. Dax began sniffing the passenger side door when Officer Wilcox observed that the windows were fogged up. Officer Wilcox gave his K9 warning to anyone that was in the truck. They couldn’t see inside the truck on the passenger side so Trooper Seacat went around to the driver’s side and observed the male laying on his back on the front seat. The suspect still wouldn’t move, so Officer Wilcox used his baton to break out the window. Officer Wilcox then observed the white male laying on the seat and on his chest was a handgun and it was in his left hand. Wilcox yelled at him to get his hand off the gun but he refused the command and Dax was sent in to engage the suspect. Dax engaged the suspect on the right leg and then the right arm causing him to drop the gun on the floorboard. With Dax still engaging the suspect, Officer Wilcox had him come out the window and at this time Officer Wilcox got Dax off the bite. The suspect was then taken into custody.

Northwest Region

Deputy Curry  and K9 Kuko & Deputy Jones and K9 Koda, Denver  Sheriff’s Office, CO

On March 14, 2017 at approximately 1000, two Denver County Sheriff’s K-9 teams were at the Denver vehicle impound facility searching approximately 230 vehicles before a public auction. These vehicles had already been searched by the Denver Police Department and the Denver Deputies at the lot. They were the last ones to run the vehicles before sale. K-9 Kuko and Deputy Curry were working downwind when K-9 Kuko pulled him approximately 75 yards to a Black Chevy SUV.  K-9 Kuko gave a very strong respiratory alert on the back bumper of the vehicle and then gave a final response by sitting.  Upon inspection of the vehicle Deputy Curry noticed nothing out of the ordinary and started to do a detailed search. He found a container with a small amount of medical marijuana in it. As he stepped back from the vehicle with the container K-9 Kuko did not leave his sitting position and continued to stare at the back bumper of the SUV.  Being this is not a normal behavior Deputy Curry went back into the vehicle and lifted the floor panel to see a spare tire.  K-9 Kuko got very excited and started to bark.  As he looked closer he observed a shiny plastic that was tucked behind the spare tire. Deputy Curry removed the spare tire and a large plastic bag containing 5.5 Pounds of marijuana. He also Ran Kuko in the front of the seats when he alerted on multiple baggies of suspected Methamphetamines. 

Deputy Curry placed the items back and had Deputy Jones and K-9 Koda started downwind of the SUV.  K-9 Koda brought Deputy Jones to the same vehicle with a strong respiratory alert and a final response of sitting.  K-9 Koda had the same cues and alerts to the Marijuana and Methamphetamines.  

 

South Central Region

Cpl. Dan McClung and K9 Buffy, Grant Parish Sheriff’s Office, LA

On January 27, 2017 @ 14:28 hours Cpl. Dan McClung was called to assist narcotics detectives and the Louisiana State Police at a residence in the town of Colfax, Louisiana. While en route to Colfax he was dispatched to a residence in reference to this same investigation. Upon arrival Cpl. McClung deployed K9 Buffy to conduct a clean air sniff around a number of boxes in which K9 Buffy alerted to the presence of illegal narcotics on one of the packages. Upon opening the package, a large amount of crystal like substance was found. Later determined to be methamphetamine and when weighed was 10.3lbs. The street value of the drugs was $464,300 and is believed to be the largest amount ever seized in Grant Parish. A 37-year-old male from Alexandria, Louisiana was arrested and charged with possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and many other federal charges to be determined.

Southwest Region

Deputy Lopez and K9 Miley, Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office, AZ

On 03/20/2017 at approximately 0715 hours Deputy Lopez was sitting in the median of I-40 at about mile post 137. Deputy Lopez observed a silver Nissan Sentra (sedan), travelling East bound. When he initially saw the vehicle, he visually estimated the speed to be about 75 MPH, which is the posted speed limit. As the vehicle neared where he was, the driver appeared to slow down for no apparent reason. As the vehicle passed his location, he visually estimated its speed at about 65 MPH. Deputy Lopez pulled out from where he was sitting and began to catch up to the vehicle. At about mile post 138.5, he caught up and began to watch the car and driving behavior. As he was catching up, the driver hit the brakes again as if he thought he might be going too fast. Deputy Lopez pulled alongside of the suspect vehicle (on the driver side). When he did this, he observed an adult male passenger in the front seat. The seat was leaned all the way back and the passenger was looking over his shoulder at him, through the rear driver side window. Deputy Lopez dropped back behind the vehicle and continued to follow it for the next several miles. The vehicle then took exit 146, into Ashfork. Deputy Lopez followed the vehicle down the ramp and watched them turn left, towards Ashfork. The vehicle then pulled into the Mobile Gas station on Lewis Ave. Deputy Lopez found this suspicious and suspected that they were trying to avoid him.

Deputy Lopez pulled across the street into the parking lot of the Shell gas station and began to watch the vehicle. He observed two male occupants get out of the car and walk around the car. It appeared that they were pumping gas and washing the windows. He then observed the occupants go in and out of the store several times. When one of the guys would go in the store, the other would wait with the car and then switch roles when one guy would come out of the store, this happened several times. At separate times, Deputy Lopez observed them making cell phone calls and walk around behind the building. This went on for about 15 to 20 minutes before they both got back into the car.

Once the vehicle left the Mobile station, it headed West bound on Lewis Ave. Deputy Lopez had previously been in contact with Sgt. Winfrey and advised about this vehicle and the suspicious behaviors. Sgt. Winfrey was parked down the road at the West end of Lewis Ave. Once the vehicle had left the Mobile station, they came around a bend and in view of Sgt. Winfrey. The vehicle then made a left turn onto 1st St. Deputy Lopez suspected that this left turn was another attempt to avoid them.

Deputy Lopez was still sitting in the parking lot at this time and began to slowly catch up once they turned onto 1st. As he was making a left onto 1st, the vehicle turned left onto Park Ave, now headed East bound. Deputy Lopez began to catch up the car and saw the driver quickly turn into the Ranch House Diner located on the South side of Park Ave. The driver parked and both occupants quickly exited the car and rushed inside of the restaurant.

Deputy Lopez pulled into the parking lot, next to the vehicle and parked. Deputy Lopez then deployed my K9 partner “Miley” for a free air sniff of the suspect vehicle that was now parked and unoccupied in the parking lot of the restaurant.

As Deputy Lopez got Miley out of his car and began to approach the suspect vehicle, he immediately observed a change in breathing and behavior. Miley began to pull him towards the Nissan. This indicated to Deputy Lopez that Miley had immediately detected the odor of drugs and was now searching for the source of that odor. As they came around the back of the Nissan, Miley continued to sniff and he observed a sharp head snap near the back of the car. Deputy Lopez and Miley began to work up the passenger side of the car, when Miley pawed at the rear passenger side quarter panel of the vehicle, indicating a trained final response (or alert) to the odor of an illegal drug coming from the Nissan.

Deputy Lopez put Miley away and advised Sgt. Winfrey of the K9 alert. YCSO Deputies then went inside of the restaurant to detain the occupants. As we walked in, Deputy Lopez identified them and saw the driver get up and rush towards the back of the restaurant. He identified him to Sgt. Winfrey. The driver quickly opened the door to the women’s restroom and tried to go inside, Sgt. Winfrey grabbed ahold of him and detained him in handcuffs. Deputy Lopez then went to the table where they were sitting and detained the passenger in handcuffs and they were both escorted outside.

We explained to them that they were being detained because the K9 had alerted to the vehicle. The driver was identified by his CA DL, the passenger was also identified by his CA DL. Sgt. Winfrey spoke with one of the suspects and Deputy Lopez overhead him admit to having a meth pipe in his sock. Sgt. Winfrey then recovered 2 used meth pipes from his sock. About this time, Deputy Warburton arrived on scene to assist. Sgt. Winfrey then advised Deputy Lopez that the suspect admitted to having personal use marijuana in the car. Both suspects were detained in patrol vehicles and we began a probable cause search of the vehicle.

In a black suitcase in the trunk of the vehicle, Deputy Lopez located a purple plastic vial that contained a usable quantity of marijuana. Also in the bag was paperwork with one of the suspects name on it. In a jacket sitting on the back seat of the vehicle was another green plastic bottle that contained a usable quantity of marijuana.

Deputy Lopez located a rental agreement in the glove box and saw that the car was rented. Deputy Lopez lifted up and removed the back seat cushion, as this gives access to the sending unit that mounts to the top of the gas tank. There is a cover on top of the sending unit that is held down with plastic screws and a metal plate that is glued down from the factory. Usually these screws have to removed with a screw driver and a pry tool has to be used to remove the glued down cover. He was able to turn the screws with his fingers and the metal cover lifted right off and was not glued down.

After doing this, Deputy Lopez could see the top of the gas tank and the sending unit. This sending unit is locked in by a metal plate that twists and locks into a metal ring attached to the tank. From experience these are put on very tight and the only way to remove them (without a specialized tool) is by using a hammer and chisel to spin the metal plates. Deputy Lopez could see obvious and fresh tooling marks where the lock rings had been turned with a hammer and chisel method. This vehicle was a year old rental vehicle and he found it odd that any work would have been done to the sending unit or fuel system when only having 20k miles on the car. Further, if any work was done, the rental company would have a professional mechanic do the work and these tool marks would not have been left.

Deputy Lopez then used a hammer and flat head screw driver to break the metal rings loose to remove the sending unit. When doing this, Deputy Lopez had to hit it in the same spots that were already tooled, due to gas lines and electrical components that were coming from the sending unit.

Sgt. Winfrey then lifted the sending unit out of the gas tank and fuel began to overflow from the tank. Deputy Lopez has removed many of these sending units and have never seen one spill so much gas. He suspected that the gas was being pushed out of the tank by some foreign object in the tank. Sgt. Winfrey finished removing the sending unit and was able to see plastic packages floating inside of the gas tank. From experience, these packages looked like packages of drugs.

Deputy Warburton went across the street to the Mobile service station and borrowed a pump so we could manually remove the gas from the tank. Once this was done, we pulled 14 separate 1 pound packages from the tank. Each package was opened and a field test showed positive for methamphetamine.