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Crime Trackers: Pima County Jail adds drug sniffing dog to the team

TUCSON – Pima County Jail will be adding a new member to their team – and he might be a little hairier than one might expect.

His name is Diesel. He is a 15-month-old black Labrador. His official job title is contraband detection canine.

Joined by his handler, corrections officer Sgt. Cesar Duarte, Diesel be heading to an eight-week academy class.  Diesel is already trained in marijuana and heroin scents. But during his next training course, he will learn how to detect cocaine and meth.

Duarte said the addition of Diesel to help locate illegal drugs in the jail will be a huge benefit. He said his presence will deter inmates from smuggling contraband into the jail.

Lt. Elsa Navarro said having Diesel on board will help immensely.  She said illegal drugs in the facility is a huge security risk.

She added they do not want the inmates to be under the influence of any drugs because it is dangerous to them, their health and the staff, as well.

Diesel was purchased for $9,000. The fund did come from taxpayers, but from money inmates pay to the commissary.

Navarro said the Arizona Department of Corrections has provided invaluable help to develop this program in order to guarantee its success from the start.

Once Diesel and his partner are certified, they will be making regular rounds in the Pima County Jail by May.

Diesel’s only mission is to sniff out contraband. He will not be trained for protection.

Caitlin Alexander

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