Operation Cyber Juice: U.S., global takedown includes home labs, gyms, local distributors
WASHINGTON, DC – DEA officials today announced a nationwide series of enforcement actions targeting every level of the global underground trade of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs, the vast majority of which are manufactured and trafficked from underground labs in China.
DEA-led Operation Cyber Juice comprised of over 30 different U.S. investigations in 20 states and resulted in the arrest of over 90 individuals, the seizure of 16 underground steroid labs, approximately 134,000 steroid dosage units, 636 kilograms of raw steroid powder, 8,200 liters of raw steroid injectable liquid, and over $2 million in U.S. currency and assets. In addition, DEA and its partners assisted in foreign steroid investigations in four countries coordinated by Europol. Domestic law enforcement partners include the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.
In Arizona alone, Operation Cyber Juice investigations yielded the seizure of 4 underground steroid conversion labs, the seizure of nearly 150,000 dosage units of finished product, 121 pounds of raw steroid powder, 22 liters of raw steroid injectable liquid, and over $300,000 in U.S. currency and assets.
Often found in these underground steroid labs are finished steroid product, raw steroid powder, oils needed for steroid conversion to a finished product, conversion kits, and other lab equipment. These products are commonly obtained via the internet from Chinese chemical manufacturing companies and underground labs.
“Too many young people are ruining their lives and damaging their bodies from steroid abuse,” said DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg. “Through Operation Cyber Juice, DEA is attacking the global underground steroid market, exposing its danger and lies.”
“This multi-agency collaboration sends a strong message to those who traffic in illegal and dangerous performance-enhancing drugs,” said Peter T. Edge, executive associate director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). “There’s no question that our joint efforts among HSI, DEA and Interpol targeting a very significant drug distribution network will have a huge impact on the distribution of illegal steroids and other dangerous performance-enhancing drugs in the United States.”
Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol, stated: “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”.
The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Travis Tygart stated: "In the global fight against dangerous performance-enhancing drugs, collaboration between anti-doping organizations and law enforcement is vital. This joint investigation again demonstrates that we can work together to identify and hold accountable underground steroid suppliers and users who are committing crimes and who may also be cheating clean athletes and sport. The actions taken today will help to ensure that all athletes are safer and any young athletes who are pressured to use these drugs to win in sport are not preyed upon by illegal drug dealers."
Furthermore, World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Director General David Howman stated, “For a long time now, the World Anti-Doping Agency has been concerned about the illegal activity in some countries of underground production and trade of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs. These substances, either as full steroid products or in raw material form, are being produced in unsanitary “underground laboratories” with no concern whatsoever given to the labeling of the products, nor to the health of the end user – quite often the athlete, and worryingly, very often young people. This problem is proliferating globally. It has become a public health issue and therefore requires an international solution through partnerships and collaboration. By partnering with USADA and the DEA in this major steroid operation, WADA has been able to prevent potentially harmful steroid substances from getting into the hands of athletes looking for an edge. This is a good example of anti-doping and law enforcement working well together to further their own efforts of reducing doping and protecting public health.”
There is great danger in buying steroids, chemicals, and other illicit products on the Internet. Many companies operating illegally both in the United States, China, and elsewhere have no regard for product safety and mislabeling 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. For example, recent lab seizures uncovered huge amounts of raw materials being mixed in bathtubs and bathroom sinks.
Throughout Operation Cyber Juice, DEA and its law enforcement partners worked closely with both USADA and WADA, receiving actionable intelligence that resulted in many of these investigations. This vision was to utilize law enforcement, anti-doping resources, and intelligence, to assist in furtherance of their respective efforts. In addition, Europol analysts were collecting information and providing leads to participating countries for further investigation.
Previous DEA steroid investigations such as Operation Raw Deal in 2007 focused on raw material manufacturers and suppliers in China and other countries; underground anabolic laboratories in North America; numerous U.S.-based websites distributing materials, or conversion kits, necessary to convert raw steroid powders into finished product; and Internet bodybuilding discussion boards that are the catalysts for individuals to learn how to illicitly discreetly purchase and use performance enhance drugs, including anabolic steroids. Many of the underground steroids labs targeted in this case advertise and are endorsed on these message boards.