An Australian delegation of customs officials is currently visiting Taiwan to assist the nation's drug detection dog training program and attended a drug-sniffer dog training seminar yesterday.
The delegation was invited by the Directorate General of Customs (DGC) and included chief customs executives and expert dog trainers, according to a spokesman for the customs office.
They will evaluate the program and are scheduled to examine Taiwan's customs inspection procedure for postal packages, luggage at airports and freight containers at seaports.
After providing initial suggestions at the seminar, the officials will further help customs authorities initiate a drug dog training plan and launch a drug dog inspection team, the spokesman said.
The cooperation is a prevention measure against drug smuggling, which is affecting Taiwan increasingly because of the rising number of drug addicts, the spokesman explained.
Heroin smuggling cases in the past three years have increased three-fold, with a 25 percent growth last year compared to 2004, according to statistics compiled by the district prosecutor's office.
The DGC has allotted a special budget for training drug dogs since 2003, but the project is still restricted because of the limited numbers of drug dogs and professional instructors, the spokesman said, adding that it costs US$4,500 to purchase the kind of dog used for detecting drugs and another US$30,000 for the dog's first year of training.
DGC officials said that they expect the cooperation with the Australian customs officials to improve training, while at the same time cutting the costs involved.
* Heroin smuggling cases in Taiwan in the past three years have increased more than three-fold.
* The number of smuggling cases increased 25 percent last year alone, compared with 2004.
* It costs US$4,500 to purchase the kind of dog used for detecting drugs.