Police dogs in Italy may soon be out of a job as another type of animal appears to be doing their job for them. Sorry doggos.
Enter feral hogs, who somehow managed to take down an entire drug operation in Tuscany recently by finding a stash of cocaine worth $22,000 (£17,000) hidden in a forest.
Police had placed a wiretap on members of the suspected drug gang and had been listening into their calls when they heard something that sparked their interest.
While listening in on one particular call, authorities overheard a member of the gang complaining about the damage caused by the feral hogs, The Local reported.
Police heard the gang complaining the clever animals unearthed and broke into a sealed package of cocaine hidden in the Tuscan forest, near Montepulciano, before scattering the contents through woodland.
With this information, police were able to dismantle the entire smuggling operation. Four suspects – an Italian and three Albanians – were arrested on drug charges after the bust, which left two members in jail and two under house arrest, Italian newspaper Il Tirreno reported.
The gang first came to the attention of police during an investigation into the murder of a 21-year-old Albanian in May last year, with officials soon learning of a scheme allegedly funnelling drugs from the Italian city Perugia to various provinces, including Siena and Arezzo.
The investigation, which spanned from September 2018 to March 2019, discovered one of the gang members was allegedly distributing drugs via a nightclub in Arezzo.
Police said the suspects traded approximately two kilograms of cocaine every month, with the gang netting the equivalent of between $90 and $120 per gram. A profitable business, until the boars dug up and destroyed $22,000 worth in the forest.
Wild boar are found in ever-increasing numbers in the Italian countryside, but it’s not just drug dealers who have been affected by them. Just this month, farmers in Rome called for action from the government, complaining the animals are to blame for land damage and road accidents, as per The Guardian.
Ettore Prandini, the president of farming association Coldiretti, said:
It is no longer just a question of compensation but a matter of personal safety and it must be resolved. Ministries and leaders of regions and municipalities must act in a concerted manner to draw up an extraordinary plan without administrative obstacles, otherwise the problem is destined to get worse.
Officials said the numbers of wild boar in Italy, approximately two million, have doubled since 2015 and are responsible for about 10,000 road accidents every year.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).