On Oct. 5, CDCR Correctional Officer Brian Pyle and his contraband-seeking canine partner Drako assisted the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office in the service of a search warrant on a residence.
The Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t have a canine unit, so in the spirit of helping fellow law enforcement agencies maintain public safety, CDCR routinely assists with searches.
Concerned about a possible methamphetamine lab, the Sheriff’s Office sent in a robot to clear the house.
Once the house was cleared of any labs or traps, Officer Pyle went through the house to check for any animals or objects that could present a danger to Drako, such as syringes or drugs that the canine could ingest.
“There was marijuana all over the place. The whole house smelled like it, and you could smell it 20 feet outside the house,” Officer Pyle said. “I didn’t think (the dog) was going to be much help.”
After Officer Pyle brought Drako into the house, they focused on the master bedroom. When Drako approached the bedroom closet he alerted Officer Pyle to the back wall.
Officer Pyle notified sheriff’s deputies, and they began searching the closet.
Deputies found a false wall, hiding a room that contained numerous rifles and pistols, along with 20 pounds of marijuana, 12 grams of methamphetamine, and scales.
Without the help of Drako the hidden firearms and drugs may not have been discovered.
This year to date, Drako and his handler Officer Pyle have found 258 cell phones, 45 pounds of tobacco, 35 pounds of marijuana, 9 ounces of methamphetamine, and a half ounce of heroin.
Drako’s journey to CDCR wasn’t an easy one.
The four-and-a-half-year-old Belgian Malinois was born in San Diego and comes from a long line of purebreeds. Within a few months of being sold to a man in Illinois, the San Diego breeder found that Drako was being tragically mistreated and took him back.
Still looking for a good home for a dog that needed a job, the breeder contacted CDCR Statewide Canine Coordinator Sgt. Wayne Conrad and offered to donate the dog to CDCR at no cost.
That was three years ago. Since then Drako has been a leading contraband search canine within the department and was CDCR’s second canine trained to detect cell phones.