Vet Who Smuggled Liquid Heroin Inside Puppies Sentenced To Six Years In Prison
A veterinarian who conspired to smuggle heroin into the United States using puppies as drug mules has been sentenced to six years in federal prison.
Andres Elorez, 39, a Spanish national who went to veterinary school in Colombia, was extradited from Spain to the United States last year for crimes he committed more than a decade ago.
According to court filings and documents, Elorez secretly raised dogs on a farm in Medellin, Colombia, between 2004 and 2005, surgically implanting liquid heroin weighing nearly three kilograms in nine puppies.
The plan was for the puppies to undergo a second surgery in the US.
Three of the puppies died after contracting a virus following the surgeries, the Justice Department said.
“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,” United States Attorney Richard Donoghue said.
The 14-year-long investigation involved a raft of federal organisations in the United States, Colombia, and Spain.
Elorez was a fugitive working as a veterinary assistant in Spain until his arrest in 2015.
"I know I cannot justify my actions," Elorez told the judge through a translator on Thursday, reported ABC News.
"Be merciful to me. Those were very difficult years of my life."
In his apology, Elorez said he moved to Spain to start a better life after realising his actions in Colombia were wrong.
He said he had been "struggling to make things right" since first jailed in 2015.
"That mistake I made, I learned to pay it in full."
Prosecutors said Elorez had used his veterinarian skills with complete disregard for the dogs in his care.
"As a veterinarian-in-training, the defendant had a duty to do no harm to animals, and he betrayed that duty when he used his veterinary skills as part of a scheme to implant liquid heroin into dogs so that Colombian narcotics traffickers could surreptitiously import heroin into the United States," they said.
After completing his prison sentence, Elorez will be deported, the Justice Department said.
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