Press Parrots Police Talking Points on Arrest of Alleged Drug Dealers' Bird

It's fair to take the cops' account with a grain of salt.


You may have seen a wacky-sounding story about a bird trained by Brazilian drug traffickers to warn them when police were approaching. But this appears to be based off little more than the police's version of events, and there are reasons to doubt their account.

Here's what police say happened: As officers approached a house in northern Brazil on Monday, the parrot warned the home's residents, saying: "Mamãe, polícia!" (Mom, police!). Officers had been doing rounds in the area, and it's not clear whether they had particular suspicions about that house or just happened to be passing it. (The original news reports are in Portuguese, which I admittedly do not speak.)

"He must have been trained for this," an officer involved in the operation said, according to The Guardian. "As soon as the police got close he started shouting." The cops eventually entered the home and arrested two suspects they believe to be crack cocaine dealers. The bird, which they also took into custody, was reportedly given to a zoo, where it will be trained to fly for several months and then freed. Police eventually released video footage of officers finding what appeared to be bags of cocaine in the house.

It was a weird story, and press outlets were quick to parrot it. "Police seize 'super obedient' lookout parrot trained by Brazilian drug dealers," The Guardian declares. Fox News' headline is almost identical: "Brazilian police seize 'super obedient' parrot trained as lookout for drug dealers."

"Parrot would warn drug dealers when cops came near," says the New York Daily News. The U.K. Daily Mail went with "'Mom, the cops are here!' Narco parrot is set to do time—at a zoo in Brazil—after it alerted its owners to police before drugs bust."

But here's the thing: Ever since the bust, the bird hasn't said a whole lot. By some accounts, it hasn't talked at all. "The police said that when they arrived the parrot started shouting 'the police arrived, the police arrived.' But here in the [police station], he was quiet and silent," Salma Barros, an attorney for the arrested suspects, tells the Brazilian newspaper Meio Norte.

"So far it hasn't made a sound…completely silent," a reporter for the Brazilian broadcaster Globo adds, according to The Guardian.

"Lots of police officers have come by and he's said nothing," Alexandre Clark, a local veterinarian, tells Globo.

It's certainly possible the bird was trained to warn its owners of approaching police. This kind of thing has happened before. But it's also possible(as my Reason colleague Scott Shackford pointed out on Twitter) that police made it all up in order to justify a drug raid after the fact. Without proof that the police are telling the truth, it's at least worth considering the possibility they're not.

Brazil, after all, has a long history of police abuse, in large part due to the country's yearslong war on drugs. Take their word with a grain of salt.

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24 responses to “Press Parrots Police Talking Points on Arrest of Alleged Drug Dealers' Bird

  1. “Ever since the bust, the bird hasn’t said a whole lot. By some accounts, it hasn’t talked at all.”

    You have to listen with ears of faith.

    1. Alternate joke: It’s pining for the fjords.

      1. Oh, it will be soon. Brazilian parrots understand the the drug gangs are not tolerant of mistakes.

  2. The parrot is, no doubt invoking its right not to incriminate itself 🙂 Well, at least an American parrot would do so…..

  3. It’s just very well trained, they also taught it to NOT talk to the cops.

    1. Good point.

      I’m reminded of a Mythbusters episode where they were trying to determine whether duck quacks didn’t echo, and they couldn’t get the duck they had to quack at all, so they went to get another duck– and as soon as they brought the second duck in, the first duck started quacking. He just needed someone to talk to.

  4. Birds are loyal.

    1. Yeah, it’s a parrot not a stool-pigeon.

      1. Even so, a parrot can STILL flip you the bird!

        1. Now THAT is a horse of a different feather! Even thought horses of a feather, flock together!

          1. So stick that feather in your cap, and SMOKE it! And call it Brazilian Doodle Dandy!

            (Hey, about Brazilian birds, anyway… Is that more, or less, than a bazillion birds?!?!)

            1. Pedro the drug dealer has 3 bazillion Brasilian birds. 1 bazillion birds defect from Pedro, and fly towards Brasilia (134 kilometers away) to inform on him. The other 2 bazillion birds stay loyal to Pedro, and fly towards Rio de Janeiro, 937 kilometers away (to alert gangsters to fight in Pedro’s favor). All birds fly at 67 kilometers per hour, relative to the surrounding airstream. However, the Brasilia-bound birds face near-direct headwinds, at only 10 degress (relative to 360 degress full circle) off of direct headwinds. The Rio de Janeiro-bound birds find tailwinds in their favor, 15 degrees off of being purely in their favor.

              All birds consume 1.3 kilo-calories of food per airstream kilometer flown.

              You may neglect as insignificant, at such low velocities, any relativistic effects of the birds’ travels.

              So then, what was the color of George Washington’s white horse?

  5. “Press Parrots Police Talking Points on Arrest of Alleged Drug Dealers’ Bird”
    Say it ain’t so, Joe.

  6. The cops probably strong armed this bird to talk…or squawk.

  7. I feel bad for the bird, because if it was raised in captivity, it won’t make it for very long in the wild.

  8. […] Click here to view original story: Press Parrots Police Talking Points on Arrest of Alleged Drug Dea… […]

  9. I mean, its *Brazil*. That they even felt the need for the slightest bit of ‘probable cause’ cover is cause for rejoicing. They could have just flown over and hosed the place with a machine gun from a helicopter.

    1. When does the video-game version of this come out?

  10. This parrot sees you, baby, shaking that ass.

    (starts after 50 seconds)

  11. this story is awesome. will he stoolie? will he fly right back to the crime-house when he’s freed? if i was the cops i’d keep him i bet the kids would love it

  12. Sure, the police have dogs that “alert” on every drug smell and has been proven, right?. In a test only the police handlers knew where drugs were hidden:where the red sheets of paper were hung up. Drugs were displayed at the beginning to ensure police the drugs were there…Dogs performed very well, however there were no drugs hidden anywhere at all, none. “Alerts” are hidden commands same as what hucksters once used to make horses count to 10. When drugs are found suspects often claim they had no knowledge or did not even use drugs. Who ya gonna believe? Out in the boonies if suspects had a goodly sum of cash they would be released but they had to sign away the cash to the cops and DA. Look up “Tenaha Texas Officer Barry Washington”.
    But SCOTUS believes in drug dogs so we have them. That parrot should be put on trial after he obtains an attorney.

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