A veterinarian accused of implanting liquid heroin in puppies for a Colombian drug trafficking ring is now in custody in NY.
Andres Lopez Elorza became a fugitive in 2005 when two dozen suspected drug traffickers in Colombia were arrested.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration said on Tuesday that Andres Lopez Elorza was awaiting a court appearance in Brooklyn.
"He 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", Donoghue said.
Richard Donoghue, US attorney for the Eastern District of NY, said in a statement: "Dogs are man's best friend and, as the defendant is about to learn, we are drug dealers' worst enemy".
Elorez, who was born in Colombia but claims Venezuelan citizenship, was arrested in Spain and extradited to the United States, prosecutors said.
When the puppies arrived in the USA, the heroin was surgically removed from their bodies. "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".
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In a statement, Richard Donoghue a USA attorney for the Eastern District of NY said "dogs are man's best friend and, as the defendant is about to learn, we are drug dealers' worst enemy".
Once the pooches arrived, the packets were surgically removed from the unwitting canine couriers - who died in the process, authorities say.
Dogs that were recovered from the clinic in 2006 are pictured in this undated photo.
He was eventually caught in 2015, living in the town of Santa Comba in northwestern Spain. He was arrested a month later. "These guys are evil geniuses in ways to think and hide the drugs, secret them", Drug Enforcement Administration Special Agent in Charge James Hunt said.
The seven surviving dogs that were discovered by officials were adopted by other owners in Colombia.
Heroina, a rottweiler, was also rescued by the Colombian police force, and has since become a narcotics dog.