A veterinarian in Colombia allegedly turned puppies into drug mules through a gruesome surgery that led to several dogs dying.
Federal prosecutors are accusing Andres Lopez Elorez, 38 of surgically implanting liquid heroin packets into puppies' abdomens so that they could smuggle the drugs into the United States.
Elorez was indicted in 2005 for the allegations, but he was only extradited Monday after being arrested in Spain on a provisional arrest warrant issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York. He was charged Tuesday in a Brooklyn federal courtroom with conspiring to import and distribute heroin into the United States.
“Elorez is not only a drug trafficker, he also betrayed a veterinarian’s pledge to prevent animal suffering when he used his surgical skills in a cruel scheme to smuggle heroin in the abdomens of puppies,” said Richard P. Donoghue, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. “Dogs are mans’ best friend and, as the defendant is about to learn, we are drug dealers’ worst enemy.”
When the puppies arrived in the U.S., the heroin was surgically removed from their bodies. At least three dogs died as a result of the procedures, the Drug Enforcement Agency said. It's unclear who performed the surgery and how many puppies in total were subjected to it.
Elorez was one of 10 people charged in 2005 for smuggling heroin into the United States. Twenty kilograms of heroin were allegedly smuggled into the country using puppies and humans, in addition to inanimate objects like aerosol cans and purse linings. Ten puppies were rescued from a farm in Medellín, Colombia before they could be sent to the United States, but with heroin already implanted inside of them. Three of the dogs died and five ran away. One Rottweiler was adopted by the Colombian National Police and later became a drug-detection dog, while a Bassett Hound puppy became a pet for another officer, the New York Times reported.
Elorez fled to Spain after the 2005 and hid there for years until his arrest in 2015. Since then, he has been awaiting extradition. If he is convicted, he faces up to life behind bars.
[Photos: Drug Enforcement Agency]