Colombians turned pedigree puppies into drug couriers by surgically implanting them with packets of liquid heroin, US authorities said tonight.
Ten puppies were rescued during a 2004 raid on a farm in Colombia, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said, as it announced arrests in the two-year investigation.
A veterinarian had stitched a total of 3kg of heroin into the bellies of six pups. Three of the them later died from infection after the drugs were removed.
The surviving dogs “are still alive and well, we’re told”, said John Gilbride, head of the DEA’s New York office.
DEA investigators said they believed the Medellin, Colombia-based ring used the puppies and other methods to conceal millions of dollars in heroin on commercial flights into New York City for distribution throughout the US East Coast.
It was unclear how many dogs were used in the scheme, nor did investigators know their fate once they arrived on US soil, Gilbride said.
“I think it’s outrageous and heinous that they’d use small, innocent puppies in this way,” Gilbride said. “It just demonstrates what lengths drugs dealers will go to to get drugs into the country.”
Recent raids in Colombia resulted in more than 20 arrests; another 10 suspects were in custody in New York, Florida and North Carolina. About 24kg of heroin was seized.