Puppies used to traffic heroin in US

Cheryl Sanders
May 3, 2018

A day after his extradition from Spain, Andres Lopez Elorza was arraigned Tuesday in Brooklyn Federal Court on an indictment charging him with surgically implanting liquid heroin into the bellies of young dogs.

A veterinarian from Colombia was charged with illegally smuggling narcotics into the United States by surgically implanting packets of liquid heroin into the bellies of puppies, USA prosecutors said on Tuesday.

When the dogs arrived in the United States from Colombia, the heroin was surgically removed from their bodies, prosecutors said.

A startled Andres Lopez Elorez, 38, pleaded not guilty to conspiring to import and distribute heroin, a day after he was extradited to the U.S. from Spain.

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This 2005 photo provided by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials shows puppies rescued from a farm in Colombia destined for use by a U.S. veterinarian working for a Colombian drug trafficking ring.

The New York Times said three of the dogs later died as a result of infections.

Investigators believe the puppies would have died in the process.

Elorza had been in Spanish custody since 2015.

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In May 2015, he went into hiding in the northwestern town of Santa Comba, after the National Court in the United States of America authorized his extradition so he could face drugs charges.

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.

The seven surviving dogs that were discovered by officials were adopted by other owners in Colombia.

Several of the canine couriers were saved and one - a Rottweiler named Heroina - became a narcotics dog, according to the DEA.

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Elorza faces a minimum sentence of 10 years up to a maximum life sentence for the crimes he is accused of committing.

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