Colombian Veterinarian Extradited to the United States to Face Charges of Using Dogs to Transport Heroin
Defendant Surgically Implanted Liquid Heroin in the Bellies of Puppies to Evade Detection
Andres Lopez Elorez was arraigned this afternoon in federal court in Brooklyn before United States Magistrate Judge Marilyn Go on an indictment charging him with conspiring to import and distribute heroin into the United States. The defendant was arrested in Spain on a provisional arrest warrant issued from the Eastern District of New York and subsequently extradited from Spain to the United States on April 30, 2018. Judge Go ordered Elorez detained pending trial.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and James J. Hunt, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), New York Division, announced the extradition.
“As alleged in the indictment, Elorez is not only a drug trafficker, he also betrayed a veterinarian’s pledge to prevent animal suffering when he used his surgical skills in a cruel scheme to smuggle heroin in the abdomens of puppies,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “Dogs are mans’ best friend and, as the defendant is about to learn, we are drug dealers’ worst enemy.” Mr. Donoghue expressed his appreciation to the United States Marshals Service, the DEA’s New York Division, Miami Division, Bogota Country Office and Madrid Country Office; The Colombian National Police; the Government of Spain and the Spanish Guardia Civil.
“Twelve years ago, our investigation unmasked drug traffickers’ inhumane callousness,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Hunt. “Over time, drug organizations’ unquenchable thirst for profit leads them to do unthinkable crimes like using innocent puppies for drug concealment, or nowadays pushing lethal amounts of fentanyl onto our streets. This week, the veterinarian allegedly responsible has been brought to New York to face the charges against him. I applaud the United States Marshal Service, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Eastern District of New York and our international law enforcement partners for their commitment to this investigation.”
According to the superseding indictment and facts presented in court, between September 2004 and January 2005, Elorez was a member of a conspiracy, based in Colombia, that smuggled heroin into the United States using various methods to conceal the narcotics from detection by law enforcement. In addition to human couriers transporting the heroin, Elorez and his coconspirators used animal couriers. Elorez, utilizing his skill as a veterinarian, surgically implanted packets of liquid heroin in the bellies of puppies in order to conceal the narcotics from authorities. When the dogs arrived in the United States from Colombia, the heroin was surgically removed from their bodies.
The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted of the crimes charged, the defendant faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment, and up to life imprisonment.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs handled the extradition in this matter. Assistant United States Attorneys Nathan D. Reilly and Alicia N. Washington are in charge of the prosecution.
ANDRES LOPEZ ELOREZ
Country of Birth: Colombia
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 5-CR-835 (S-1) (SJ)