Veterinarian who smuggled heroin in puppies sentenced to 6 years in prison

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By David K. Li  with NBC News U.S. News
Image: Puppies rescued from a farm in Colombia destined for use as drug mul
Puppies rescued from a farm in Colombia destined for use as drug mules to the United States by Andres Lopez Elorza in 2005.   -  Copyright  U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration via AP

A drug-running veterinarian, who used live puppies to smuggle heroin into the United States from Colombia, was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday.

Andres Lopez Elorez, 39, had pleaded guilty in September 2018, to a single charge of conspiracy to import a controlled substance into the United States.

Andres Lopez Elorez.
Andres Lopez Elorez.New York Attorney\'s Office

"Every dog has its day and with today's sentence, Elorez has been held responsible for this reprehensible use of his veterinary sills to conceal heroin inside puppies as part of a scheme to import dangerous drugs into the United States," said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Richard Donoghue.

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 John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

Once drug runners got their hands on the puppies, the drugs were taken out and most of the animals died in the process.

During a 2005 raid of Elorez's clinic in Medillin, Colombia, by the Drug Enforcement Agency, 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 United States this past May.

Once his sentence is completed. Elorez will be deported, prosecutors said. He'll be credited with the three-and-a-half years he's already served in custody.