Vet Sentenced For Surgically Implanting Puppies With Liquid Heroin

By Keri Blakinger 02/11/19

The 39-year-old Colombian vet’s role in the puppy-implanting plot dates back to 2004.

puppies saved after being surgically implanted with liquid heroin by vet

After a decade on the run and three years in federal custody, a Colombian veterinarian was hit with six years in prison for surgically implanting live puppies with liquid heroin in an effort to aid a South American drug-smuggling ring.

Andres Lopez Elorez appeared in Brooklyn federal court last Friday for sentencing, months after pleading guilty and admitting he conspired to import heroin into the U.S.  

“I have made mistakes,” he told the judge, according to The New York Times. “I know I cannot justify my actions.”

Authorities hailed the outcome as a positive step in fighting the long-term rise in opioid overdoses.

“Every dog has its day, and with today’s sentence, Elorez has been held responsible for the reprehensible use of his veterinary skills to conceal heroin inside puppies as part of a scheme to import dangerous narcotics into the United States,” said federal prosecutor Richard P. Donoghue, who apparently likes bad puns in his press releases. “This office and our law enforcement partners will continue to investigate and prosecute drug trafficking organizations, operating here and abroad, to reduce the availability of opioids and save American lives.” 

The 39-year-old Colombian man’s role in the puppy-implanting plot dates back to 2004, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. In September of that year, Elorez leased a farm in Medellín, where he “secretly raised dogs” that he used to aid in his drug smuggling efforts. 

Police raided the place on Jan. 1, 2005, and found 17 bags of liquid smack, including 10 already implanted in the pups. All told, the drugs weighed in at nearly three keys, according to the feds.

Authorities surgically removed the dope, but three of the animals died from viruses they got after the operation. Twenty-two Colombian nationals were arrested in connection with the case the following year, according to NBC News.

One of the dogs was adopted by an officer with the Colombian National Police and another—named Heroina—became a drug dog for the agency. 

Elorez, meanwhile, went on the run. Police didn’t catch him until 2015, when he was arrested in Spain. Three years later, he was finally extradited to the U.S. to face charges.

"Traffickers will go to great lengths,” DEA Special Agent in Charge James Hunt said at the time. “These guys are evil geniuses in ways to think and hide the drugs, secret them. This case was exceptionally heinous." 

After the 39-year-old finishes his sentence, he will be deported.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.