Andres Lopez Elorez was arraigned in a federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday for conspiring to import and distribute heroin into the United States in one of the saddest ways possible, if you're an animal lover. Elorez was working for a Colombian cartel slicing open the bellies of puppies and stitching bags of liquid heroin into them to be opened once the dogs had reached their destination. The puppies, mostly purebred dogs including Labrador retrievers, were exported to the United States with the idea being that pedigree dogs would have an easier time getting through customs. Once they arrived in the States, its understood they would be killed and gutted for the drugs they carried and law enforcement have no idea how many dogs could have passed away in this way.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has confirmed that a 2005 raid in Colombia found 10 dogs waiting to be used as drug couriers who were then rescued, but many would have died over the course of their drug running operation. Of the ten saved puppies, five ended up running away and three died from infection but two were adopted, with one even becoming a drug-sniffing dog for the Colombian police. "Over time, drug organisations' unquenchable thirst for profit leads them to do unthinkable crimes like using innocent puppies for drug concealment," James J. Hunt, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) New York office, said in a statement. "Dogs are man's best friend and, as the defendant is about to learn, we are drug dealers' worst enemy."
Richard Donoghue, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said Elorzed had "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." Elorez has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer, Mitchell Dinnerstein, said his client has "no real connection to the United States" so has been unfairly extradited from Spain, where he was found. Elorez is said to be struggling with deteriorating physical and mental health after losing his medication for a number of days in transit from Spain and needing surgery for a urethra problem. "I think a lot of this is, frankly, stress related", said Dinnerstein. The case continues.