Today, a joint operation led by Europol and the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has culminated in a series of global law enforcement actions targeting every level of the illegal anabolic steroid industry – from the manufacturers in China to the traffickers who market the deadly doses in Europe and beyond.
Referred to as Operation Underground, this unified police action comprised of 15 EU Member States and partners from Australia, Iceland, Switzerland, Interpol and the World Doping Agency. Operation Underground took place in conjunction with 36 different US investigations in 20 states under Operation Cyber Juice.
Throughout Operation Underground, Europol worked closely with law enforcement partners in Cyprus, Italy, Belgium and Iceland, receiving actionable intelligence that resulted in many of those investigations. Close cooperation with Iceland in particular resulted in financial investigations that traced back the financial flows to China.
In total, 135 000 steroid dosage units were seized, as well as 636 kilograms of raw steroid powder of Chinese origin. $ 2 million in U.S. currency and assets were also seized, and dozens of search warrants were executed on targets, resulting in 92 arrests and the seizure of 16 rogue steroid laboratories.
Often found in these underground steroid laboratories are raw ingredients, equipment and instructions on how to make complex, illicit and potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals. The products are commonly obtained over the Internet from Chinese chemical manufacturing companies and underground laboratories.
Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, said: “This international law enforcement action was accomplished through the cooperation of multiple agencies committed to the single goal of identifying and dismantling a lucrative criminal enterprise. Europol will continue its successful cooperation with the Drug Enforcement Administration and the World Doping Agency to eliminate this crime that spans across the globe and cyberspace”.
Chuck Rosenberg, DEA Acting Administrators, said: “Too many Americans, including young people who are still developing physically, are ruining their lives and damaging their bodies from steroid abuse. Criminals are exploiting the internet to not only traffic drugs, but misinform people about the benefits and perceived shortcuts from steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. Through efforts such as Operation Cyber Juice, DEA is attacking every level of the U.S. and global underground steroid market and exposing its many ugly truths.”
There is great danger in buying steroids, chemicals, and other illicit products on the Internet. Many companies operating illegally have no regard for product safety and mislabelling is common – both intentional and unintentional. Products are often misrepresented, and their safety is not at all guaranteed. In addition, federal agents report that many of the underground steroid labs seized are extremely unsanitary, further illustrating the danger in buying these products illegally.