A cruel Colombian veterinarian was sentenced to six years in prison Thursday for turning puppies into drug mules.
Andres Lopez Elorez, 39, apologized for the grotesque scheme where he raised the dogs on a farm in Medellin, Colombia, and then surgically implanted bags of liquid heroin into nine animals for shipment from South America to New York.
“I know I can’t justify my actions.” Elorez told Brooklyn Federal Court Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. through a Spanish translator at the sentencing. “I have made mistakes. That’s why I ask you to be merciful. I never intended to live off drug trafficking.”
Elorez pleaded guilty last September to conspiring to import a kilo or more of heroin, wrapping up a case dating back 14 years. The suspect went on the lam for a decade until his 2015 arrest in Spain.
“Every dog has its day,” said Brooklyn U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue. “And with today’s sentence, Elorez has been held responsible for the reprehensible use of his veterinary skills.”
Elorez was busted when law enforcement raided his farm on Jan. 1, 2005, finding 10 bags of heroin already implanted in the dogs and another seven bags set aside for additional surgeries.
The defendant referred to the years when he trafficked drugs as “a dark chapter in my life.” Three of the puppies died from a virus contracted after the drug-implanting operations.
Over the last four months of 2004, Elorez leased the farm to secretly raise the dogs — and then turned the puppies into unwitting canine criminals.
Elorez said that his mentor, a veterinarian professor in Colombia, convinced him to take part in the drug operation.
“At 21, when he [Elorez] met the professor he was enamored with this guy,” said Elorez’s lawyer, Mitchell Dinnerstein.
The vicious vet already has already served 3½ years in jail in Spain and New York, with that time to count toward his sentence.