National Crime Agency
Dog rescued from a life of organised crime - Happy ending for “unwitting accomplice” Camila
A dog used in attempt to bring cocaine worth £800,000 into the UK will be rehomed after her owner was jailed for 6 years and 4 months following an NCA investigation.
Two year old Camila was brought to the UK in May by Mexican national Jorge Pablo Samano Galas, 43.
On arrival at Heathrow, Animal Aircare Reception Centre staff carrying out standard welfare checks on the dog noticed that her crate felt unusually heavy, was oddly sized and smelt strongly of paint stripper. They examined the crate, and – after finding ten one kilo blocks of a white substance hidden within a false base – called in Border Force, who confirmed the substance was cocaine.An NCA investigation began and Samano Galas was arrested when he arrived to collect his pet.
In a subsequent interview, Samano Galas told NCA officers he had bought the dog from a rescue centre in Mexico a few weeks prior, and had booked a holiday in the UK so that they could “bond.”
Officers found that it had cost him over £3,000 to ship the dog, and a return journey had not been booked. Subsequent enquires showed multiple other inconsistencies in his account of the trip – including evidence that he had repeatedly changed his travel dates and route to the UK.
Samano Galas eventually pleaded guilty to importing class A drugs. At a hearing on 24/11/2023 at Winchester Crown Court, a judge sentenced him to 6 years and 4 months.Camila has been looked after by staff at the reception centre since, one of whom will now become her permanent owner.
NCA senior manager Darren Barr said: “This was a cynical attempt to bring hundreds of thousands of pounds of class A drugs into the UK.
“Cocaine smugglers like Samano Galas play a crucial role in the business model of international organised crime groups, and their activities perpetuate violence and intimidation throughout the UK.
“While Samano Galas now faces prison, the story will have a happier ending for his unwitting accomplice Camila, who will spend the rest of her life in a happy home.”Jake Holliday, Head of Animal Welfare LHR, said: “We decided to foster Camila while the NCA investigation was ongoing to ensure that she was given the love she deserved.
“It quickly became apparent that she was a friendly, affectionate girl who thrived off meeting new people.
“Now, after many months, it’s been confirmed that Camila can go home with one of our animal welfare officers, who she adores. We will miss her dearly – not least because her office antics kept us in hysterics – but we are so glad she will be looked after by someone who has been there with her since she first arrived.”
Steve Dann, Chief Operating Officer at Border Force said:
“This is a significant seizure and demonstrates how Border Force work with different teams at Heathrow Airport and the National Crime Agency to stop these toxic drugs from hitting our streets in the first place.
“Our Border Force officers continue to work tirelessly to protect our borders and keep the public safe.”
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