Dogs sniff out pirate DVDs

Lucky and Flo, the world’s first DVD-sniffing dogs, gave Queens investigators a paw recently. The pooch pair, in town as part of an international tour, helped Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and his team execute three counterfeit DVD stings in Jamaica, netting thousands in pirated products including copies of the movie “Underdog.”
The crime-fighting dogs, three-year-old black Labradors, are trained to sniff out the scent of polycarbonate and other chemicals used in optical discs. Owned by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the dogs have been brought around the world to meet and greet with customs officials, in hopes that individual countries will sponsor their own canine crews.
“What the dogs are looking for are suspicious packages, things likely to be smuggled,” said MPAA Communications Director and self-proclaimed puppy publicist Elizabeth Kaufman. Kaufman explained that the dogs could not tell the difference between fakes and the real deals.
In Queens, officials were astounded by Lucky and Flo’s spot-on noses on Wednesday, August 29.
“The dogs passed with flying colors by successfully ferreting out hidden contraband at a number of locations. Man’s best friend has become a DVD counterfeiter’s worst nightmare as we now welcome this latest weapon into our law enforcement anti-piracy arsenal,” Brown said.
The Jamaica stings were the first time the pups were put to work in the United States. Since they finished their six-month training, which cost the MPAA $17,000 for both dogs, they have been working for the Malaysian government.
As part of their assignment, dubbed “Operation Double Trouble,” the dogs went out on 35 raids, leading to the arrest of 26 people. In addition, 1.9 million pirated discs - valued at $3.5 million - 97 burner towers, and three replicating lines - worth $2 million were seized.
“They were so good at their jobs, a Malaysian syndicate pirate put a bounty on their heads for $30,000,” Kaufman said.
The dogs, trained and named by the renowned Neil Powell, were originally rescued in Northern Ireland. For the past 35 years, Powell has been teaching dogs to sniff out explosives and drugs as well as perform search and rescue missions.
After a one-week stint in Canada, the dogs will travel back to their homeland, and then likely tour Europe with Kaufman.
As for the alleged Queens counterfeiters, Ibrahima Diallo, 19; Mohamed Sene, 20; and Michael Williams, 20, have been charged with second-degree trademark counterfeiting and first-degree failure to disclose the origins of a recording. If convicted, each face up to four years behind bars.
Other counterfeit items netted from the searches at Electronic Electroshack, Leather Wholesale, and 165 Flava - all in the vicinity of Jamaica Avenue and 165th Street - include “The Simpsons Movie,” “Knocked Up,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” “Rush Hour 3,” “The Invasion,” and “Illegal Tender” - all movies that have not yet been released on DVD.

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