Vet Caught Smuggling Heroin Across US Border in Puppies’ Stomachs
Drug-dealing veterinarian Andres Lopez Elorez surgically inserted drugs into dogs
A veterinarian has pleaded guilty to drug smuggling charges after he was caught trafficking liquid heroin across the US-Mexico border for a Columbian cartel by surgically implanting the narcotics into the stomachs of puppies.
39-year-old Andres Lopez Elorez pleaded guilty to the charges on Friday and is now facing a minimum of ten years in prison.
The smuggling occurred between 2004 and 2005 when Elorez, originally from Venezuela, was "training as a vet."
Elorez fled to Spain in 2005 but was finally arrested by Spanish authorities in 2015 and extradited to the United States in May to face charges of conspiring to import heroin into the US.
Elorez pleaded guilty to charges in a Brooklyn, New York, federal court on Friday, according to a United States Attorney's Office press release.
According to the Daily Mail, Elorez, a Venezuelan, was said to have used a Spanish interpreter in court and said that the smuggling occurred while he was "studying as a vet."
"I conspired together with another experienced veterinarian to introduce drugs into the United States of America through surgical acts on dogs," Elorez admitted, the New York Daily News reported.
Authorities confirmed that Elorez and his Colombia-based co-conspirators had smuggled heroin into the United States by various methods, including surgically implanting liquid heroin contained in plastic pouches into puppies' stomachs.
The puppies were then sent from Columbia to the US, where the heroin would be surgically removed from their bodies.
Elorez allegedly stitched packets of heroin into the bellies of Labrador retrievers and other breeds that were sent on commercial flights to New York City.
The puppies were said to have died later from infections caused by the incisions.
Authorities said that between September 8, 2004, and January 1, 2005, Elorez and his co-conspirators managed to import one kilogram or more of heroin into the US.
Elorez is expected to be sentenced in 2019 and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment and a maximum of life imprisonment.
After his prison sentence, Elorez would face deportation, according to authorities.
Elorez was arrested in June 2015, ten years after police raided his clinic in Medellin, Colombia, where they found ten dogs — three of which had three kilograms of heroin already surgically implanted inside them.
Among the dogs that were found was a basset hound, called Donna, that was adopted by a National Police of Colombia (CNP) officer and his family.
A Rottweiler, Heroina, was also rescued and became a CNP narcotics dog.