Vet to be extradited for allegedly smuggling heroin in puppies

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VENEZUELAN veterinarian Andres Lopez Elorza, accused of using puppies to smuggle heroin into the US from Columbia, was arrested by Spanish authorities on Saturday in Santa Comba. Lopez was arrested in the north-western Galician town where he had been hiding since last month, when the Spanish court authorised his extradition to the US.
Columbian police forces had searched for Lopez since 2005, when, in a raid of the clinic he managed in Medellin, they uncovered three kilogrammes of liquid heroin implanted into three puppies and meant for shipment to the US as pets.
Lopez – thought to be a member of a drug trafficking gang that used dogs to smuggle heroin into the US – was arrested in Spain in 2013 but was later released, awaiting authorisation of his extradition. When authorisation finally came through, he went into hiding in an effort to postpone his extradition to the US, where he will be tried as a drug trafficker.
Lopez had been living in Spain for the last eight years and is married with two children, with whom he cut contact upon going into hiding. The manhunt to locate the missing veterinarian ended on Saturday with Lopez´s arrest, closing the case – called Operation Puppies – over a decade later.


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