Colombian Veterinarian Sentenced in Brooklyn Federal Court to 72 Months’ Imprisonment for Heroin Importation Conspiracy
Defendant Surgically Implanted Liquid Heroin in Puppies to Smuggle Narcotics
Earlier today, at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn, Andres Lopez Elorez, a veterinarian who surgically implanted liquid heroin in puppies on behalf of Colombian drug traffickers, was sentenced by United States District Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. to 72 months’ imprisonment. In September 2018, Elorez pleaded guilty to conspiring to import heroin into the United States. Upon completion of his sentence, the defendant will be deported.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and Ray Donovan, Special Agent-in-Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration, New York Division (DEA), announced the sentence.
“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,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. “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.” Mr. Donoghue extended his grateful appreciation to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, New York and Miami Divisions and Bogota and Madrid Country Offices; the United States Marshals Service; the Colombian National Police; the Government of Spain and the Spanish Guardia Civil for their assistance in the investigation, extradition and prosecution.
“This sentencing closes the case on a trafficking organization that used live puppies to smuggle drugs from Colombia to New York,” stated DEA Special Agent-in-Charge Donovan. “Today, the veterinarian responsible for surgically implanting packets of liquid heroin in puppies has been sentenced to 72 months in federal prison. I commend our law enforcement partners and U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of New York, for their diligent efforts throughout this 14-year investigation.”
According to court filings and facts presented during court proceedings, Elorez and his co-conspirators, based in Colombia, smuggled heroin into the United States using various methods to conceal the narcotics from law enforcement. Specifically, between September 8, 2004 and January 1, 2005, Elorez leased a farm in Medellin, Colombia, where he secretly raised dogs and surgically implanted bags of liquid heroin in nine puppies for importation into the United States. On January 1, 2005, law enforcement searched the farm and seized 17 bags of liquid heroin weighing nearly three kilograms, including 10 bags that were removed from the puppies. Three of the puppies died after they contracted a virus following the surgeries.
Elorez was a fugitive until he was arrested in Spain in 2015. Elorez was extradited to the United States in May 2018.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s International Narcotics and Money Laundering Section. 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. 05-CR-835 (SJ)