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Vet sentenced for implanting heroin in puppies as drug mules

Published
FILE - 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. Veterinarian Andres Lopez Elorez 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, officials said. Elorez, who pleaded guilty in September 2018 to conspiring to import heroin into the United States, received a 6-year sentence on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A veterinarian who surgically implanted liquid heroin in puppies on behalf of Colombian drug traffickers was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday.

One of the puppies went on to become a drug-detection dog named Heroina.

The sentence for Andres Lopez Elorez was announced in Brooklyn by U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue and other law enforcement officials.

Elorez, who pleaded guilty in September to conspiring to import heroin into the United States, was part of a scheme that turned puppies and dogs into drug couriers by stitching packets of liquid heroin into their bodies.

The U.S. government said Elorez leased a farm in Medellin, Colombia, where he secretly raised dogs and surgically implanted bags of liquid heroin in nine puppies for importation.

On Jan. 1, 2005, law enforcement searched the farm and seized 17 bags of liquid heroin, including 10 bags that were removed from puppies.

Three of the puppies died after contracting a virus following the surgeries.

The Colombian-born Elorez was a fugitive until he was arrested in Spain in 2015; he was extradited to the United States in May 2018.

At least two of the puppies went on to a better existence.

Donna, a beagle, was adopted by a Colombian police officer and his family. Heroina, a Rottweiler, was trained by Colombian police to be a drug detection dog.

FILE - 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. Veterinarian Andres Lopez Elorez 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, officials said. Elorez, who pleaded guilty in September to conspiring to import heroin into the United States, received a 6-year sentence on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration via AP, File)
FILE - 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. Veterinarian Andres Lopez Elorez 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, officials said. Elorez, who pleaded guilty in September to conspiring to import heroin into the United States, received a 6-year sentence on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration via AP, File)
FILE - 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. Veterinarian Andres Lopez Elorez 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, officials said. Elorez, who pleaded guilty in September to conspiring to import heroin into the United States, received a 6-year sentence on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration via AP, File)
FILE - 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. Veterinarian Andres Lopez Elorez 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, officials said. Elorez, who pleaded guilty in September 2018 to conspiring to import heroin into the United States, received a 6-year sentence on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration via AP, File)
FILE - 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. Veterinarian Andres Lopez Elorez 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, officials said. Elorez, who pleaded guilty in September 2018 to conspiring to import heroin into the United States, received a 6-year sentence on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration via AP, File)