You know you're doing a good job as a drug dog when a cartel puts a price on your head.
That's just all in a day's work for Colombian National Police dog Sombra, which is Spanish for "shadow."
Now the police are taking extra precautions to keep this folk hero safe so she can keep on sniffing.
Super drug sniffer
Colombian police dogs go on parade, but one of them may need some extra security during the next one. (Photo: Policía Nacional de los colombianos/flickr)
The 6-year-old German Shepherd has been a scourge to the Colombian drug gangs since March 2016, following a major bust of 2,958 kilograms (6,521 pounds) of cocaine hydrochloride in a banana box, The Washington Post reports. She hasn't let up since then. In May 2017, she found another shipment of cocaine totaling 1.1 tons, and in June 2017, she sniffed out 5.3 tons of cocaine. Another four tons were found in an auto parts shipment.
Sombra's busts have resulted in 245 arrests and made her into an icon. Citizens want selfies with Sombra, she's a fixture on local news and has been awarded the department's Wilson Quintero medal twice for her contributions to the war on drugs.
Basically, Sombra is not to be messed with.
Given her incredible nose, it's no surprise that the Urabeños drugs gang has put a bounty on Sombra's head. The reports vary as to the value, ranging between 20 and 200 million Colombian pesos, which is around $7,000 and $70,000 in U.S. dollars. The gang, also known as the Gulf Clan, has a reputation for offering bounties on those they want killed; a leaflet circulated by the gang in 2012 offered $500 to anyone who killed a police officer, according to BBC News.
"The fact they want to hurt Sombra and offer such a high reward for her capture or death shows the impact she's had on their profits," a police representative told the Telegraph.
Keeping a hero safe
Since the police learned of the bounty, they've taken actions to protect Sombra from would-be assassins.
Sombra was transferred from the country's Caribbean Sea coast, prime Urabeños territory, to an airport well away from the gang's stomping grounds. The Associated Press reports that she has discovered thousands of pounds of cocaine since she was transferred in January. When her day is done, she's whisked into a van with tinted windows and two armed guards, who also keep an eye her while she works.
All this exposure hasn't gone to Sombra's head, however.
"Sombra is a very friendly, calm canine, and for that reason, she has no problem approaching children or people who want to say hello to her," Oscar Favian Solarte, head of the anti-narcotics division, told El Tiempo. "She's playful, and in fact that is part of the development of her job. Not only to look for caches of illicit drugs but also, after her work is done, to de-stress, so to speak."