MUMBAI: Lucky and Flo, the Motion Picture Association’s DVD-sniffing black Labrador retrievers, led investigators to an estimated 100,000 pirated movie and computer games DVDs hidden in secret storage compartments in shops and a warehouse in Malaysia last week.
The canine duo also helped Philippines law enforcement officials seize an estimated 300,000 pirated DVDs from three malls in Manila notorious for the sale of pirated movies and music this week. Among the seizures, which had an estimated street value of $500,000, were a significant number of discs containing child pornography.
Officials say that investigators also seized DVDs containing child pornography in Malaysia. The raids, on 11 retail outlets and a warehouse, took place in the same building where the canine duo, with Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (MDTCA) and Motion Picture Association (MPA) investigators, discovered and seized an estimated one million pirated optical discs infringing movie and computer games titles on 20 March 2007.
In Friday’s raid, MDTCA and MPA investigators discovered that charcoal had been placed inside the outlets containing pirated DVDs, in an apparent attempt to throw Lucky and Flo off the scent. The dogs, the world’s first such, trained to detect polycarbonate and other chemicals used in optical discs, are able to detect but unable to distinguish between CDs and DVDs, burned and replicated discs, or legitimate and pirate discs.
The raids in Manila, at Makati Cinema Square, St Francis Square and Metrowalk Mall, led investigators to an estimated 100,000 pirated movie and computer games DVDs hidden in secret compartments in shops and a warehouse. Child pornography was found in the Johor Bahru raid as well.
“Over the past four days, in two raids, in two countries, we have seen that syndicates distributing pirated movies were also engaged in the distribution of child pornography,” says the MPA’s senior vice president and regional director, Asia-Pacific Mike Ellis.
During the past month, Lucky and Flo have worked with Malaysian anti-piracy investigators to unearth 1.3 million pirated DVDs, leading to the arrest of 14 suspects. Prior to last Friday’s raid in Johor Bahru, on April 2 in Kuala Lumpur, Lucky and Flo led MDTCA officers to a cache of nearly 150,000 pirated optical discs with an estimated street value of $430,000. On 20 March, Lucky and Flo led a raid in Johor Bahru that yielded six arrests and the seizure of around one million pirated optical discs with a street value of around $2.86 million.
The visit to the Philippines by Lucky and Flo is in part aimed at permitting the Optical Media Board (OMB) to thoroughly evaluate the effectiveness of canine anti-piracy investigators as the organisation considers the feasibility of establishing a dog unit. The OMB is charged with regulating the manufacture, mastering and replication of optical media in the Philippines. Malaysian law enforcement authorities are similarly considering the establishment of a canine unit to support anti-piracy operations, the release adds.