A drug-running veterinarian, who used live puppies to smuggle heroin into the United States from Colombia, was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday.
Andres Lopez Elorez, 39, pled guilty in September 2018 to a single charge of conspiracy to import a controlled substance into the U.S.
"Every dog has its day and with today's sentence, Elorez has been held responsible for this reprehensible use of his veterinary skills to conceal heroin inside puppies as part of a scheme to import dangerous drugs into the United States," said Richard Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
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Elorez was arrested by U.S. marshals in Spain in March 2015, and accused of stuffing pouches of liquid heroin into the bellies of puppies to smuggle drugs through the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Once drug runners got their hands on the puppies, the drugs would be taken out — most of the animals died in the process.
During a 2005 raid of Elorez's clinic in Medillin, Colombia, by the Drug Enforcement Administration, authorities found 6.6 pounds of heroin surgically implanted in six puppies, officials said.
One of the puppies rescued, a Rottweiler named Heroina, grew up to become a drug-sniffing police dog in Colombia.
After Elorez's arrest in Madrid in 2015, he was extradited to the U.S. in May 2018.
Elorez will be deported after he completes his sentence, prosecutors said. He'll be credited with the three-and-a-half years he's already served in custody.
David K. Li
David K. Li is a breaking news reporter for NBC News.