NEW YORK - Following a six-month deployment in Malaysia that uncovered over $3.5 million worth of pirated DVDs, a pair of black Labrador retrievers have now helped detectives locate thousands of counterfeit discs in Queens.
The two dogs, Lucky and Flo, have been trained to zero in acutely on the smell of polycarbonate, leading police to hidden stashes warehouses, airports and other areas where pirated DVDs are trafficked.
Lucky and Flo found hidden bounties of pirated DVDs inside three different Queens stores, turning up bootleg copies of current theatrical releases including The Simpsons Movie, The Bourne Ultimatum, Rush Hour 3, The Invasion and, appropriately enough, Underdog. The men caught with the black market goods — Ibrahima Diallo, 19, Mohamed Sene, 20, and Michael Williams, 20 — are being charged with second-degree trademark counterfeiting and first-degree failure to disclose the origins of a recording, and could face up to four years in prison if convicted.
Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) chairman Dan Glickman told the New York Times, "These dogs are our best employees. The dogs give us a way to personalize this. These dogs have been subject to a contract on their lives."
Glickman was referring to the dogs' tour of duty in Malaysia, dubbed "Operation Double Trouble." During that mission, a Malaysian pirate syndicate placed a bounty of 100,000 Ringgit (roughly $30,000) on the canines. The dogs took part in 35 police raids that led to 26 arrests in Malaysia for copyright violation.
The MPAA estimates that 43 percent of the illegal video recording of movies in the U.S. — a felony as of 2005 — is done inside New York City theaters.