"We were a little bit stunned at the amount of labs we found as a result of this investigation," said DEA spokesman Garrison Courtney.The probe was focused on distributors, not users. No professional athletes were directly involved in the investigation.
Nine other countries, including China, participated in the raid. One Chinese manufacturer is accused of smuggling human growth hormone into the U.S. (Of course given China's track record, one would not be surprised if the growth hormone is fake!)
Operation Raw Deal, also targeted internet discussion boards frequented by bodybuilders. "Even though their storefront is the Internet, rather than the street corner, the people who engage in the smuggling and distribution of these substances are drug dealers, plain and simple, and we will treat them accordingly," said Robert Clark Corrente, U.S. attorney for Rhode Island. The labs' customers may include athletes, bodybuilders and ordinary adults who simply want to look better, officials said. (Vanity alone may be a reason to target those folks.)
In New York, five people accused of operating illicit steroid labs known as and "Bodiez by Design" and "Strong Island Underground" were indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance. In Connecticut, four men were charged with purchasing raw steroid powder from China and distributing them to customers through a MySpace.com profile and a Web site. Genescience Pharmaceutical Co. and its CEO, Lei Jin, are accused of money laundering and conspiracy to facilitate the sale of smuggled goods. Jin allegedly marketed the drugs under the brand name Jintropin primarily as an anti aging supplement.
We should all feel safer on the streets now that the body builders and the anti aging groups are no longer able to purchase growth hormone from China over the internet. Perhaps now agents can turn to less significant problems such as Methamphetamines, cocaine, crack, and heroin.
Update 10-6-07 Are athletes and other steroid users starting to feel the heat?
After years of angry denials, Marion Jones is apparently ready to admit she used steroids.
Jones is a three-time Olympic gold medalist who will appear in U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y., on Friday to plead guilty to charges in connection with steroid use, a federal law enforcement source told the A.P. "The clear" is a performance-enhancing drug linked to BALCO, the lab accused of supplying steroids in professional sports. Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees Jason Giambi and Detroit Tigers outfielder Gary Sheffield all have been linked to BALCO. More than two dozen athletes testified before a federal grand jury in 2003. Bonds denied ever knowingly taking performance-enhancing drugs, saying he believed a clear substance was flaxseed oil and a cream was an arthritis balm.
Update 11-27-07: Bonds was indicted for lieing under oath concerning steroid use. The claim may be defensible if he was taking growth hormone or some other nonsterioid because of the way the question was asked. For Raw Deal statistics and update, see comments legal pub 11-27!