Veterinarian Andres Lopez Elorez, 39, has pleaded guilty to charges of conspiring to import heroin into the US after allegedly stitching bags of liquid heroin inside puppies
The veterinarian accused of implanting liquid heroin in puppies for a Colombian drug trafficking ring pleaded guilty to charges Friday.
In May, Andres Lopez Elorez, 39, had been extradited from Spain, where he had lived for 12 years, to face charges of conspiring to import heroin into the US.
Elorez pleaded guilty to charges in a Brooklyn, New York, federal court Friday, according to a United States Attorney’s Office press release.
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 said, according to the New York Daily News.
Authorities said that Elorez and his Colombia-based co-conspirators had smuggled heroin into the US by various methods including surgically implanting liquid heroin contained in plastic pouches into puppies’ stomachs.
Officials said the liquid heroine packets (shown) were surgically implanted into the puppies before they were flown to the US, then cut out of the puppies after they arrived
Elorez’s clinic in Columbia was raided in 2005. Authorities found 10 puppies (shown) inside, three of which had already had three kilograms of heroin sewn inside them
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 10 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, 10 years after police raided his clinic in Medellin, Colombia, where they found 10 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.
Rottweiler Heroina (shown left after her rescue and right as she is now) was also saved. She went on to become a National Police of Colombia narcotics dog