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Bootleggers try to throw dogs off scent

Movie pirates are spraying chemicals on their bootleg DVDs to confuse two U.S.-loaned dogs that helped Malaysian authorities sniff out nearly 1 million illegal discs, an official said Monday.

The two female Labradors have been trained to detect polycarbonate chemicals used in manufacturing discs. But officials received a tip that bootleggers are using chemical sprays to throw Lucky and Flo off the scent, said Fahmi Kassim, the Domestic Trade Ministry’s enforcement chief in southern Johor state.

“The pirates are believed to be desperate because the dogs were so successful,” Fahmi told Ministry authorities last week said the dogs were moved to a safe house after a source informed them that DVD and CD pirates were offering a bounty to anyone who could kill the dogs, on loan for at least a month from the Motion Picture Association of America.
The dogs, which began sniffing out disc shipments at Malaysia’s main airport on March 13, won acclaim when they traveled south to Johor, helping officials uncover 1 million pirated DVDs, CDs and computer game discs worth $2.8 million in an office complex on March 19.

Fahmi declined to say whether Lucky and Flo were still in Johor, citing security reasons. However, the dogs have not taken part in any raids in Johor since last week’s effort, he said.

The large seizure has not crippled pirates, Fahmi said, noting that authorities in Johor, which borders Singapore, found several retail outlets selling pirated discs over the weekend.

“We believe the pirates wanted to show off their strength, to show that they managed to reorganize and reopen their business even after we confiscated so many discs,” Fahmi said.

Malaysia is among the world’s main producers and exporters of pirated discs, the U.S. government and the MPAA have said. According to the Malaysian government, 5 million discs were seized in more than 2,000 raids nationwide last year, and 780 people were arrested.

The MPAA says Lucky and Flo’s work in this Southeast Asian country is the first time authorities anywhere in the world have used dogs to detect contraband discs. Malaysian officials have said they will consider training their own canines to perform similar tasks.

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