PECOS COUNTY, TX (KWES) - "Radar" has seen it all during his six-year drug busting career with the Pecos County Sheriff's Office: 500-pound loads of hydroponic marijuana from California, crystal meth concealed under the floor mats of cars and hundreds of narcotics traffickers passing through West Texas from far and wide.
The 9-year-old drug detection Labrador is now gearing up for a hard-earned retirement from the K-9 Unit, following six years in Pecos County and a stint patrolling a four-county region near Amarillo.
"From the time he was six months old until now, it's been non-stop training [and] working," said Deputy Sheriff Wes Evans, Radar's longtime partner. "I got him when he was eight weeks old. He has arthritis and bulging discs now. It's time to slow down."
Iraan volunteers are working with K-9 officers to raise money for a new drug dog. A German Shepherd or Labrador will likely fill the upcoming vacancy, Evans said, and will cost between $8,000 and $10,000.
"We decided to put together a fundraiser to help them out," said Dana Beck, an Iraan city employee organizing a car- and motorcycle-themed event scheduled for July 18. "It's a great cause and we're cooking for 250. We'll see if more people show up."
Officials said they hope to meet their fundraising goal and find Radar's replacement within the coming months. The three narcotic detection dogs currently on staff in Pecos County are "crucial" in drug busts and "the key" to investigating hidden stashes, explained Sgt. Kelly Kennedy.
"If they alert [us to something suspicious they've been trained to detect], then we have probable cause to get in a vehicle," he said. "That's our search warrant."
Pecos County's proximity to well-traveled drug trafficking routes on I-10 made narcotics arrests a "pretty frequent" occurrence, Evans told NewsWest 9. He added that marijuana- and methamphetamine-related incidents had increased in the past few years.
"But these dogs are trained to sniff it all out," he said. "Any type of narcotic. They can find marijuana, methamphetamine, ecstasy, cocaine, you know name it. There just needs to be a tiny trace of it."
Fundraiser benefiting Pecos County Sheriff's K-9 Officers:
"Hot Bikes, Hot Rods & High-Performance Cars!"
July 18, 2015
Iraan County Park
10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
$5 donation for meals; free drinks
Contact Dana Beck at (432) 302-0554 for details.