Colombian vet charged in US with smuggling heroin in puppies' bellies

Colombian vet charged in US with smuggling heroin in puppies' bellies

Colombian vet charged in US with smuggling heroin in puppies' bellies

Andres Lopez Elorza made a court appearance on Tuesday in New York City.

Andres Lopez Elorez is accused of helping smuggle heroin into the U.S. by surgically implanting it into puppies.

Authorities said once the animals arrived, the drugs were removed.

Andres Lopez Elorza became a fugitive in 2005 when two dozen suspected drug traffickers in Colombia were arrested.

Assistant US Attorney Richard Donoghue said dogs were "man's best friend" and warned "we are drug dealers' worst enemy".

It is believed the dogs were sent on commercial flights to NY, where the drugs were cut out of them.

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"He 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", Donoghue said.

During the raid, they discovered ten dogs, three of them with three kilograms of heroin implanted inside them.

In May 2015, he went into hiding in the northwestern town of Santa Comba, after the National Court in the U.S. authorized his extradition so he could face drugs charges. Authorities believe he may have been in the country for as long as eight years.

USA officials say Elorez was part of a Colombian-based conspiracy from September 2004 to January 2005 that smuggled heroin into the United States using various methods to hide the narcotics from detection.

They were then exported to the United States with the smugglers hoping the dogs' pedigrees would help ease their path through customs, the US Drug Enforcement Administration has said. "Over time, drug organizations' unquenchable thirst for profit leads them to do unthinkable crimes like using innocent puppies for drug concealment, or nowadays pushing lethal amounts of fentanyl onto our streets".

Fortunately, several of the canine couriers were saved, and one became a narcotics dog, per the DEA.

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