Two black Labradors helped Malaysian authorities find nearly 1 million illegal DVDs and CDs on Tuesday in a building where optical disc pirates hid their wares.
The sniffer dogs, named Lucky and Flo, are on loan for a month from the Motion Picture Association of America, which estimates that its members — including Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, Time Warner Inc. unit Warner Bros., News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox and NBC Universal's Universal Pictures — lost $1.2 billion to Asia-Pacific movie pirates last year.
Lucky and Flo roamed several floors of an office complex in southern Johor state and detected the discs behind locked doors, which officials broke open with crowbars, said Fahmi Kassim, the Domestic Trade Ministry's enforcement chief in Johor.
Officials arrested five Malaysians and a Vietnamese man in the operation, in which nearly $2.8 million worth of discs were seized, Fahmi said.
"We suspected there were pirated discs in the building, and sure enough, the operation proved to be very successful," Fahmi said by phone. "The dogs were a big help."
Lucky and Flo began work in Malaysia on March 13, sniffing out shipments at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The Johor operation was the first time they had worked in another area, said Neil Gane, the MPAA's Singapore-based senior director of operations.
The dogs have been trained to detect polycarbonates, chemicals used in the disc manufacturing process. They cannot tell the difference between real and pirated discs, but can detect discs hidden in shipments or concealed places.
Malaysia is among the world's top illegal movie producers and exporters, Washington and the MPAA have said. It is one of 36 countries on a U.S. watch list of serious copyright violators.
Officials say 5 million discs were seized in more than 2,000 raids in the Southeast Asian nation last year, and 780 people were arrested.