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Crime Trackers: Diesel sniffs out drugs at Pima County Jail

TUCSON – The corrections staff at Pima County Jail welcomed their newest member  – and after completing an eight-week training course with his partner, it is fair to say he is now the “Top Dog” at the jail facility.

Diesel is a four-legged corrections officer who is energetic, enthusiastic and works for an “atta boy.” His partner and handler is Sgt. Cesar Duarte.

On Diesel’s first official day on the job, he searched the inmates living quarters and mailroom.

Correction Officer Nichole Thornberry said the addition of a drug-sniffing dog is extremely helpful. Thornberry said in her 5.5 years on the job, she has found everything, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and meth.

“I think it’s a great thing for us to have in our facility,” she said. “I think anything we can do to eliminate drugs in the facility is a huge benefit to us.”

She added the addition of Diesel will also lower assaults at the jail.

On Diesel’s first day, he did not find any drugs. Despite this, officials said Diesel has to keep his senses sharp.

Duarte planted a plastic PVC pipe that is scented with heroin. After Diesel located it, he was able to reward the canine with a toy and a “good boy.”

Diesel was purchased after the first of the year for $9,000 with money from the inmates who use the commissary.

Lupita Murillo

Lupita Murillo is an investigative reporter. She is part of the Digging Deeper team that uncovers important issues focusing on crime that affects the community.

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