In what may be a sign of Norway’s increasing affluence, Norwegian customs officials are now using dogs to sniff out cash smugglers. The dogs are specially trained to detect the scent of money, and are bringing in substantial revenues to Customs, as well as uncovering organized crime networks.
Three specially trained dogs are now working at airports across Norway, sniffing out money, as reported by newspaper Dagens Næringsliv. Since they were first introduced in 2009, they have sniffed their way to NOK 2.5 million, according to Toll Customs magazine På Grensen.
They are employed at baggage carousels, at departure gates and in the closed-off rooms where baggage is sorted. Customs officials can divert baggage from flights into these rooms for checking, and the sniffer dogs work here in combination with x-ray machines to sniff out cash stashed in suitcases.
If passengers are caught travelling with more than NOK 25,000 in cash, without declaring it, they need to pay a fine of 20 percent of the entire amount. Bjørn Røse, director general of Customs and Excise, wants the fine to be raised even higher, to 50 percent, and for customs officials to hold on to the confiscated cash until they have carried out full lengthy checks on who was carrying it.
If customs officials suspect that the cash is linked to crime, they alert the police. A substantial amount of the cash found stems from drug smuggling, prostitution, welfare cheats, illegal employment and tax evasion.
The dogs cannot tell the difference between currencies, but all money is printed on the same kind of paper, and that is the scent that they are trained to pick up. Customs officials also have dogs trained to sniff drugs, and one that is even specialized in both drugs and cigarettes.