A parrot in Brazil was taken into custody for aiding crack cocaine dealers. It had nearly foiled the police’s drug bust by warning its owners of their arrival. The officers were trained to deal with guard dogs, but who keeps a guard parrot?
Arresting a Parrot for Aiding Its Drug-Dealing Owners
In its home in the low-income community of Vila Irmã Dulce, the parrot yelled out, “Mama, the police!” when the police arrived on the scene. It was perched inside a small one-story home with no windows in the front. When the police entered, the parrot recognized them and called out to its owners.
“He must have been trained for this,” said one officer involved in the operation. “As soon as the police got close, he started shouting.” 
Despite its warning, the police managed to arrest the couple and a teenage girl who ran a drug den. They also found small bags of crack while the bird watched calmly from the countertop. The parrot, who has not been named (probably to protect his identity), was also taken to the Teresina Police Department by an officer carrying him on his fingertip and placing him into a cage.
A Brazilian journalist who “interviewed” the guilty parrot the next day described it as “super obedient.” It obliged with the police proceedings, but it has exercised its right to remain silent ever since it was arrested. After all, it knows it’s a bird, not a rat.
“So far it hasn’t made a sound … completely silent,” the reporter said.
Alexandre Clark, a local vet, confirmed the parrot had not cooperated: “Lots of police officers have come by, and he’s said nothing.” 
The dealers’ defense attorney, Salma Barros, questioned this. The parrot had allegedly warned his owners, yet now he won’t utter a peep—this cast doubt on the bird’s guilt as an accomplice in the situation.
Meanwhile, environmentalists worried about the bird in custody. One named Jaqueline Lustosa went to the station to try and free the bird.
Releasing the Jail Bird
Eventually, the parrot — dubbed the “papagaio do tráfico” (drug trafficking parrot) in local papers — was let go. It now lives at a local zoo where it’s being rehabilitated for three months before being released into the wild. His silence had remained throughout his visit so far. Perhaps he’s reflecting on his life of crime and grateful that he got off easy.
Professional bird trainer Kirean from Mufasa Pets explains that training a parrot as a look-out isn’t such an outlandish idea. They are potentially very helpful for criminals who need a warning system. “Birds can be trained to identify police officials, say for example using a particular type of shoes, uniform or group of people as a cue.”
It’s not a fast solution, however. Owners need to earn the bird’s trust before they agree to work for them. “The bird will not talk unless you build a bond with it; it will take at least two months or even more for a professional trainer to make the bird forget its previous owners,” Kirean said.
Additionally, trainers at the zoo may have a difficult time caring for the parrot since it’s already an adult. “We are talking about an adult bird here; if you try to give it a partner, it may get violent, but if it accepts another bird as its life partner, it may try to fly in order to chase her.”
Its health is also a matter of great importance. “However, the trainers need to ensure that the parrot is not infected; otherwise, it may pose a risk for other birds,”
Parrots Involved in Crime
This unnamed bird is not the only feathered friend in crime. In Columbia in 2010, a parrot named Lorenzo became infamous for similarly warning its owners. He called out for them to run in Spanish when he saw police officers approaching. When they arrived, they found Lorenzo guarding a stash of guns and pot.
“You could say he was some sort of lookout,” said one Columbian police officer who was at the scene.
In fact, Lorenzo was only one of 1,700 guard-birds seized by Columbian authorities. 
As humorous as using a bird as a lookout may be, it takes a toll on the feathered creatures. They are taken from their natural habitat and learn how to rely on humans to care for them. And when drug dealers or criminals flee or are arrested, the birds are abandoned. Police officers often take them to zoos to help rehabilitate them to be released back into the wild, just like the “papagaio do tráfico.” However, it’s a challenging process. Some birds don’t emotionally recover from the experience.
“It’s very difficult for such animals and birds to survive in the wild, since their whole life they are fed by hands. They are never accepted into a herd and may die of depression. Birds are the most sensitive of them all,” said Kirean.
Hopefully, the unnamed parrot will be one of the success stories. We believe that you could turn your life around, “papagaio do tráfico”!
- “Police seize ‘super obedient’ lookout parrot trained by Brazilian drug dealers.” The Guardian. Tom Phillips. April 24, 2019.
- “Parrot Goes To ‘Jail’ After Warning Its Owners About A Police Drug Raid.” Bored Panda. Gerda. 2019.
- “‘Mama, police!’: A parrot tipped off drug dealers to a raid, authorities say. Now he’s in custody.” Washington Post. Meagan Flynn. April 25, 2019.