K9, Officer Pivotal In Philly International Drug Bust

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — An US Customs and Border officer and her K9 are being credited for making one of the largest drug discoveries at Philadelphia International Airport.

Two passengers arriving from London Monday afternoon tried sneaking nearly 89 pounds of khat through the airport.

The plant is used as a stimulant and is labeled a narcotic by the US Customs and Border Protection.

“It can be considered like a super caffeine, except that it has a highly addictive nature to it, so it can really cause problems with people,” CBP officer Steve Sapp explained.

It was CBP officer Melissa Wallace and her two-year-old beagle Auburn who found the khat in the passenger’s suitcase.

The large seizure is made more significant by Wallace herself. She is the first CBP K9 handler who is deaf.

“I’m proud to be that way and I’m proud that I’m able to overcome a lot of things in my life and this is one of them,” Wallace explained.

Wallace, who learned to read lips, has been paired with Auburn for almost a year.

The pair is responsible for detecting food and agriculture products international passengers are carrying that could spread diseases like and Foot-and-Mouth to the United States.

Their discovery of khat Monday afternoon is believed to be the first made by a K9 and handler in our region.

“It was a great feeling. I was so excited,” Wallace said.

“Melissa’s broken so many glass ceilings in her life that this is just another challenge for her to overcome. We’re just very proud of her,” CBP officer Hal Fingerman said.

The two passengers, who were on their way home to Minnesota, were fined more than $25,000.

The khat was destroyed.

Reported By: Todd Quinones, CBS 3


One Comment

  1. Normandy44 says:

    Martin, she really knew about ASL, see this link: http://deafnation.com/nobarrierswithjoelbarish/agriculture-specialist-k9-handler/


    Deaf Portuguese

  2. ScoobyDoo says:

    That is actually a healthy outlook. On the other hand, if you go through life unhappy with who you are, if you let others label you as “defective,” and that effects your thinking to the point that you believe you are defective, then you really have a problem.

    If you are deaf, you are deaf. You deal with it and live your life as who you are. (Today’s technology provides no solutions, just band-aids that work for some but not all.) Although she could have phrased it better than “that way,” cheers to Wallace for having the right perspective in general and a healthy level of self-esteem. And for not living on the public dole which many deaf people do.

  3. martin says:

    I also am not clear on the content of that sentence…but as a Deaf person, YES I am proud to be Deaf. I am not sure if Melissa uses American Sign Language…but the majority of Deaf people in America use ASL.We are proud because we have a culture with its values, norms, language and heritage.

  4. ZZBAR says:

    “I’m proud to be that way”. (Deaf). Is that something to be proud of? Just asking.

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