Drug dog 'Rambo' ready to rumble at O'Hare

March 23, 2011 3:39:38 PM PDT
Five days a week, Rambo is sniffing out trouble at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility at O'Hare International Airport. But soon the 8-year-old Belgian Malinois will retire.

He and his partner, Joseph Jablonski, search parcels from around the world for drugs.

"Together we're a drug enforcement team. We look for narcotics that come through the mail," said Jablonski. The K-9 officer said Rambo is "pretty good" at his job. But that might just be an understatement. Last year, Rambo and four other narcotics dogs made more than 400 seizures of illegal drugs thanks to canine noses that are up to 10,000 times more sensitive than their human partners' noses. These dogs know their dope.

"Right now we're doing quite a bit of opium, some marijuana, coke, hashish, ecstasy, meth. All your drugs," Jablonski said.

No matter how creative the smugglers are or how well concealed the contraband is, Rambo sniffs it out.

"This is an example of one of the shipments we just had a couple of days ago. The opium was concealed within the heel of a woman's sandal. We also had ladles a couple of days ago with opium inserted in the handle of the ladle," Mary McCarthy, district director U.S. Customs and Border Protection. "He still sniffs it out."

Last month more than 1.2 million parcels came through the international mail facility. And each one of them is inspected by the three "R"s: x-ray, radiation and Rambo.

Rambo demonstrated his technique with a parcel of planted drugs. He found it in seconds. In exchange, he got his favorite treat- a white, chewy towel.

Rambo will soon retire his nose and settle into some relaxation.

"Of course I'm going to miss him. He's my bud," said Jablonski, who will then partner up with another drug-sniffing dog. It won't be easy since the two have been searching out drug smugglers together for seven years.