Distributors of anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs were recently targeted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Operation Cyber Juice.
The DEA-led operation consisted of more than 30 investigations in 20 states and targeted every level of the global underground trade of the substances, according to an announcement from the DEA. The targets of the law enforcement actions included gyms, home labs and local distributors.
An LA Fitness in Phoenix was caught up in Operation Cyber Juice on Aug. 28 when agents raided a juice bar inside the club, Boost-NRG, according to a 12News report. Boost-NRG is independently owned and operated by William Thorng, according to a statement from LA Fitness provided to 12News. LA Fitness said it takes the situation "very seriously" and is investigating.
Operation Cyber Juice resulted in the arrest of more than 90 people, 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 liquids and more than $2 million in currency and assets.
In Arizona alone, Operation Cyber Juice investigations seized four underground steroid conversion labs, 150,000 dosage units of finished product, 121 pounds of raw steroid powder, 22 liters of raw steroid injectable liquid, and more than $300,000 in cash and assets.
DEA Special Agent and Spokesperson Eduardo Chavez declined to discuss the operation in additional detail with Club Industry, citing evidence concerns and the ongoing nature of the investigations.
"I don't think steroid use gets the attention of heroin or meth or drugs or like that," Chavez said. "These types of illegal drugs have potentially long-term dangerous results. This is dangerous stuff, and people don't know what they are getting. So many of them are mislabeled."
The people consuming anabolic steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs do not fit the bodybuilder stereotypes, Chavez said.
"It's guys reliving their high school glory days and trying to get that high school physique in their 40s and 50s," Chavez said. "It's the family man who basically wanted to try that avenue to see how big and quick he can get. They had no professional interest in it. It's literally a weekend warrior who opted to try and get into it that way."
Finished steroid product and materials are often found in the underground steroid labs, according to the DEA. The products are commonly obtained through the internet from Chinese chemical manufacturing companies and underground labs.
"Some of it is mixed in bathtubs–then you're going to put that stuff in your veins?" Chavez said.
The Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service assisted the DEA as Operation Cyber Justice enforcement partners in the United States. The DEA and its partners also assisted in foreign steroid investigations in four countries coordinated by Europol.
"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 (HIS). “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."
Not your typical juice cleanse: DEA steroid operation leads to global seizures of raw powder, injectibles, 90 arrests pic.twitter.com/cOTiHdZpx8— DEA News (@DEANEWS) September 1, 2015