Monkeys ‘trained as criminal masterminds’ – ape drug deals, cartel pet and ‘spy’

Humans are never short of ingenious new ways to commit crime, and some people have even outsourced their dodgy dealings – to monkeys.

Our ape relatives are among the closest to us in the animal kingdom, and with their advanced brains and opposable thumbs, they make the perfect candidates to be trained up as criminal sidekicks.

Maybe that's why, back in 1999, Bangladeshi authorities caught a pair of primates dealing drugs to addicts in the capital of Dhaka.

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Cops ensnared the animals, named Munni and Hamid, thanks to an anonymous tip-off and discovered they were carrying codeine.

They were even able to collect cash from their customers, reports the Tehran Times.

And it's not the only time wayward mammals have been used in undercover activity.

A June 2022 shoot-out between cartel members and police in Texcaltitlan, Mexico, saw 11 gang members killed – but police also found a dead monkey in a camo jacket and a bulletproof vest.

Thought to be the pet of one of the slain gunmen, the ape was found lying across one cartel member's body, reports CBS.

It is unclear whether he was killed in the gunfire or prior to it, but state prosecutors said an "autopsy" on the animal would provide answers.

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"A primate was killed at the scene, which was presumably owned by a criminal who was also killed at the scene," they said in a statement.

In 2011, Pakistani officers detained a monkey who was roaming the streets of Bahawalpur, with some suspecting the creature was being used as a messenger or a spy.

Just four years later, a suspicious pigeon was found across the border in India and accused of carrying out the same crime for the other side.

Closer to home, in Hartlepool, one monkey was reportedly falsely accused of being a spy after a solo survivor washed to shore during the Napoleonic Wars.

The "Hartlepool Monkey", as he became known, baffled locals who had never seen an ape before and wrongly assuming he must be French, hung him for espionage, according to legend.

But while that monkey may have been the victim of mistaken identity, others undoubtedly have a hand in human crimes.

It is not uncommon for people to report having food, cash or even valuables stolen by monkeys, and some crooks have even used the primates' cunning for their own gain.

Two men were arrested in New Delhi, India after they were accused of exploiting the apes and using them for street robberies.

In March 2021 a local lawyer was robbed of around £60 in the south of the city by three men who used monkeys to intimidate him as he was travelling in a rickshaw, the Daily Star previously reported.

"When the victim was sitting in an autorickshaw, the men [got in with him] and asked one monkey to sit on the front seat and another at the back," a local police official said.

"They took the money the lawyer had in his wallet and fled with the monkeys."

And in Bali, Australian tourists have reported more than £9,000 worth of their belongings stolen by monkeys in the past five years, according to

Insurance companies have had to fork out about $17,000 AUD to holidaymakers targeted by apes who are even "violent" towards them, with the most expensive claim seeing one visitor lose their bag containing hearing aids, their phone and money.

Some have even needed medical attention after being bitten or scratched by the aggressive animals.

Australian travel insurance boss Jo McCauley, warned tourists to be cautious in areas with a lot of monkeys.

"While they may appear charming and endearing, it’s crucial to exercise caution and awareness during your visit to avoid running into a mishap," she said.

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