He was part of a barbaric scheme that turned an undetermined number of puppies and dogs into “animal couriers”
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
New York – A veterinarian accused of implanting liquid heroin in puppies for a Colombian drug trafficking ring is now in custody in New York.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said on Tuesday that Andres Lopez Elorza was awaiting a court appearance in Brooklyn.
Lopez, who is Venezuelan, was arrested in 2015 in Spain. He was extradited to the U.S. on Monday.
U.S. authorities say Lopez stitched packets of heroin into the bellies of Labrador retrievers and other breeds sent on commercial flights to New York City. They say the packets were then cut out of the puppies, who died in the process.
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 on Tuesday.
“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.
His attorney, Mitch Dinnerstein, declined comment on Tuesday.