A veterinarian accused of implanting liquid heroin in puppies for a Colombian drug trafficking ring has pleaded not guilty to US charges.
Authorities said once the animals arrived, the drugs were removed.
Lopez Elorez fled to Spain from his home country of Colombia.
While the heinous acts were committed 12 years removed, USA authorities extradited Colombian veterinarian Andres Lopez Elorza, 38, from Spain; where he appeared in a Brooklyn court Tuesday (May 1) and plead not guilty to smuggling drugs in the bellies of puppies.
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".
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"As alleged in the indictment, Elorez is not only a drug trafficker, he also betrayed a veterinarian's pledge to prevent animal suffering", said Richard Donoghue, the US Attorney based in Brooklyn.
Investigators believe the puppies would have died in the process. "Dogs are man's best friend and, as the defendant is about to learn, we are drug dealers' worst enemy".
During the raid, they discovered ten dogs, three of them with three kilograms of heroin implanted inside them. One Rottweiler was adopted by the Colombian National Police and later became a drug-detection dog, while a Bassett Hound puppy became a pet for another officer, the New York Times reported.
In May 2015, he went into hiding in the northwestern town of Santa Comba, after the National Court in the US authorized his extradition so he could face drugs charges. "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.
If convicted on conspiracy charges, he risks spending at least 10 years and potentially life behind bars.