“Dogs are man’s best friend,” asserted U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue, “and, as the defendant is about to learn, we are drug dealers’ worst enemy.” Donoghue was referring to the recently extradited Andres Lopez Elorez, a former Colombian veterinarian who admitted to sewing balloons filled with heroin into the stomachs of live puppies to smuggle drugs into the U.S.
“Elorez is not only a drug trafficker,” Donoghue continued, “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.”
Elorez pleaded guilty to conspiring to import heroin into the country, allegedly importing more than a kilo of drugs between September 8, 2004 and January 1, 2005. “I conspired together with an experienced veterinarian to introduce drugs into the United States of America through surgical implantation in dogs,” Elorez admitted through an interpreter last week in court. “I did this even though I knew I was wrong and I was committing a crime.”
The plot including the surgical implantation of liquid heroin into the bellies of Labrador puppies, who were then shipped to New York City on commercial flights. Upon their arrival from Colombia, the heroin was surgically removed from their bodies. There was no confirmation of just how many puppies died during the process.
Agents originally uncovered the operation in 2005. Elorez was finally apprehended in Spain in 2015, and extradited to the U.S. in May. The former vet is facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ in prison and a maximum life sentence.