comscore Veterinarian implanted heroin in puppies for Colombia drug ring, authorities say | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Top News

Veterinarian implanted heroin in puppies for Colombia drug ring, authorities say

  • U.S. DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION VIA ASSOCIATED PRESS / 2005

    Puppies rescued from a farm in Colombia destined for use by a U.S. veterinarian working for a Colombian drug trafficking ring. Veterinarian Andres Lopez Elorza used the puppies to smuggle packets of liquid heroin on commercial flights to New York City, where the heroin packets were eventually cut out of the puppies, who died in the process, according to officials.

NEW YORK >> A veterinarian pleaded not guilty today to U.S. charges that he implanted liquid heroin in puppies to turn them into drug mules for a Colombian trafficking ring.

Andres Lopez Elorza appeared in federal court in Brooklyn after being extradited from Spain, where he was arrested in 2015 on a U.S. warrant. He was ordered held without bail.

Lopez Elorza, 38, who also goes by Lopez Elorez, became a fugitive in 2005 when authorities arrested about two dozen suspected traffickers in Colombia.

Before he fled, the defendant had “gained some notoriety” from accusations that he was part of a barbaric scheme that turned an undetermined number of puppies and dogs into “animal couriers” by stitching packets of liquid heroin into their bodies, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nathan Reilly told a magistrate judge today.

It is believed that the dogs were sent on commercial flights to New York City, where the drugs were cut out of them, authorities said. Investigators believe the puppies would have died in the process, but it was unknown how many were involved.

“Over time, drug organizations’ unquenchable thirst for profit leads them to do unthinkable crimes like using innocent puppies for drug concealment,” James J. Hunt, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s New York office, said in a statement.

U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said: “Dogs are man’s best friend and, as the defendant is about to learn, we are drug dealers’ worst enemy.”

Ten puppies were found during a 2005 raid on a farm in Colombia, DEA officials said. Five ended up running away, three died from infection and two were adopted, including one that became a drug-sniffing dog for Colombian police, officials said.

Lopez Elorza was born in Colombia but claims Venezuelan citizenship, authorities said.

His attorney, Mitch Dinnerstein, declined comment today.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature
Comments (1)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Scroll Up