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Police can thank some unexpected detectives for a recent cocaine bust in Italy: feral hogs. The invasive beasts managed to dig up $22,000 worth of the drug buried by suspected dealers in the woods of Tuscany on Wednesday.
Siena police managed to thwart the operation after wiretapping the suspected dealers and overheard them complaining about the damage the hogs inflicted on their precious stash in the Valdichiana valley, according to Newsweek’s report of Italian press.
The number of hogs involved in uncovering the smuggling operation remains unknown (It could’ve been 30 to 50.) and what effect the cocaine had on them. But they did manage to rip through waterproof packaging and scatter the powder across the forest bed.
Four suspects were subsequently arrested on charges of drug trafficking. They had reportedly sold two kilos of cocaine every month, according to Italian newspaper Il Tirreno. They would return regularly to their secret hiding spot in the woods, but the powerful-snouted hogs put an end to that.
The wild pig problem is only getting worse in Italy, where an estimated two million boars wreak havoc on farms, according to Coldiretti, the national farmer’s organization. Feral hogs have also caused around 10,0000 car accidents this year, as well as the deaths of 13 people in the past nine months.
Last month, hundreds of farmers took to the streets in Rome to protest the government’s inaction to control the hog population, which is exploding because Italy’s mild winters and lack of hunting allow the invasive species to multiply at unmanageable rates. Farmers claim the hogs tear up their land and destroy their crops.
But now that hogs have discovered cocaine, it’s clear crops aren’t their only target.
Cover image: This Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019 photo, shows one of two feral hogs caught in a trap on a farm in rural Washington County, Mo. The trap had been set a few weeks earlier but wasn’t sprung until sometime in the night of Jan. 26. (David Carson/St. Louis automate your posting-Dispatch via AP)