QUITO, Ecuador — The dogs were quick and precise. One located the drugs and neutralized the person carrying them. Another found explosives hidden under a car’s tire.

The dogs — Dayco, Amanda, Apolo, Zeus and Maly — were showing their skills Monday at a military intelligence brigade ceremony south of Ecuador’s capital of Quito in which they received decorations for their service.

Uniformed men stood in formation as the canines received their medals.

The dogs have played “a crucial role in public security and the fight against organized crime,” said Col. Santiago Salazar, commander of the Calicuchima General Intelligence Brigade.

“We want to pay fair tribute and recognition to the dogs” for their role in the military operations that have intensified following the declaration of an internal armed conflict in response to gang violence, Salazar said.

This declaration has allowed Ecuador’s military to participate alongside police since January in tasks of controlling public order and conducting searches on the streets and in prisons.

In the demonstration, Apolo and his handler approached a group of people. A man in the group ran away at full speed. Apolo reached him in a few seconds and brought him to the ground. During a search, drugs were found on the man.

When Zeus’s turn came, his handler gave an order and the dog went to a parked vehicle, walked around it then sat next to the rear left tire. An explosive was found underneath the tire.

Salazar said the canine unit “has become a power of enormous importance and a vital resource for the security and well-being of society.”

Since the start of 2021, Ecuador has been rattled by a violent onslaught of criminal gangs linked to cartels in Colombia and Mexico fighting for control of drug trafficking routes and territory.



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