Drug money buys drug sniffing dog in Hancock County

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CARMEL, Ind. (May 22, 2014) — If you’ve ever wondered where drugs and the money go after being seized in a bust, we can tell you.

The Hancock County Sheriff’s Department introduced us to the newest member of the force. You can call him Manni, and he was bought with drug bust money. FOX59 went on a training session with Manni and his handler, Hancock County Sheriff Deputy Nick Ernstes.

In this particular training class, there were simulated traffic stops. As Deputy Ernstes was talking to the driver, he smelled an unsavory odor. Real drugs were hidden and it was Manni’s job to find them. A few days in and training seems to be working.

“It’s quite an adjustment, but we’re moving along pretty well, doing fantastic,” Ernstes said.

Manni’s primary job will be to partner with Deputy Ernstes every day on the Pro Active Criminal Enforcement Team. It consists of several Indiana law enforcement agencies that, in four years, has intercepted more than 1,000 lbs. of drugs and $2 million in drug money. That money, once cleared in an investigation, goes straight to paying for dogs like Manni and equipment. You can call it a reinvestment.

Manni’s trainer is Julie Case, who owns Carmel-based Ultimate Canine. Dog training is in her family tree.

“For a few years, ya know, I trained dogs in different facilities and opened my own business,” Case said.

She says it’s the best job in the world.

“We’re putting lives in this dog’s paws. If he misses a large amount of heroin, that means children on the street are gonna buy it, teenagers are gonna buy it. Somebody could hurt or overdose from that, so knowing that he’s taking it off the streets is an extremely rewarding feeling,” Case said.

Once all of this week’s training is complete, Manni will officially join the force and start sniffing for drugs on May 27.