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Tobacco Detection Canine Program

In 2012, Altria Client Services' Brand and Trade Channel Integrity Department (BTCI) stepped up its ongoing efforts to combat the growing problem of cigarette trafficking. Cigarette traffickers were devising creative ways of hiding cigarettes in trunks of cars, storage units, and in secret compartments in walls and drawers, where they could not be easily detected. BTCI recognized that without a way to detect these hidden cigarettes, law enforcement would be limited in stopping traffickers from continuing these practices, and law enforcement would not be able to obtain key evidence needed to prosecute.

Looking for a way to support law enforcement in this area, BTCI added Fillmore, a yellow Labrador Retriever, to the department. Fillmore is trained to detect the smell of tobacco and provide an alert indicator. Finding success with Fillmore, BTCI got a second canine, Max, in late 2013. To date, Fillmore and Max have been involved in 159 law enforcement actions across the U.S., such as inspections and search warrants.

Max and his handler Jerry Christiansen are based in Richmond, Virginia. Jerry is a retired Virginia Department of Corrections Sergeant who supervised the department's canine program.  K-9 Max is available to help law enforcement agencies throughout Virginia with their inspections or investigations.   

If your agency would like to employ K-9 Max, please contact either...

K-9 Handler Jerry Christiansen at (804) 357-9063; or,

Bart McEntire at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address); or,

the Law Enforcement Support phone line at 877-224-3487.

To obtain more information about the canine program, visit