Kargo packing punch for city police work|[01/02/07]

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 2, 2007

On a small field in Redwood Friday afternoon, Kargo chased down marijuana-laced tennis balls as his handler gave command after command in a brief training session.

To this K-9, running after the balls isn’t the fun part, Bo McLeod of the Vicksburg Police Department said. The 60-pound, 2-year-old German shepherd revels in tracking the scent of drugs.

&#8220His drive for narcotics is phenomenal,” he said. &#8220During his four weeks of training, he was just outrageous with narcotics.”

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That’s why McLeod, after only a week with his last K-9, Bret, decided to bring Kargo to Vicksburg from the Alpha Canine Training Center in Jackson.

&#8220After the first week of training with Bret, I had to work with Kargo, too,” McLeod said. &#8220So while we were training, I turned Bret back in and got Kargo.”

That came six months after another K-9, Tongo, was placed on medical leave with a degenerative joint disease. Although the 11-year-old Belgian Malinois remains with McLeod, the police department has not retired him.

Bret is a 3-year-old Belgian Malinois.

All three dogs are what police call &#8220dual purpose.” They are used for narcotics detection and patrol.

&#8220Kargo has searched some cars and got some drug misdemeanors, but he’s had no big hits yet,” McLeod said. &#8220He’s still new.”

Tongo had been with McLeod since 2002, the year he helped find more than $630,000 during a traffic stop. That money was seized from a late-model Chevrolet Avalanche that is still used by the police department. The money was eventually forfeited to the city and used when the department purchased a new fleet of vehicles, uniforms and other equipment.

Overall, McLeod said, Tongo compiled quite a resume: 195 days of training; 21 criminal apprehensions; 92 drug arrests; 884 pounds of marijuana seized; and 640 kilos of cocaine seized. He also appeared in the Miss Mississippi Pageant in 2002 and worked with the Warren County Sheriff’s Department, Mississippi Highway Patrol, Mississippi Department of Transportation and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

The Vicksburg Kennel Club paid $8,500 for Bret, and the city paid the remainder of the $12,000 cost. No additional cost was required to bring Kargo to Vicksburg, McLeod said.

Kargo is the fifth dog since 1999 to work for the police department.