8 Indicted in underground steroid distribution ringPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX -- Eight people, including four Arizona residents, have been indicted following a 15-month investigation into an underground anabolic steroid distribution ring, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced Friday.
The operation is one of the largest steroid enforcement actions in Arizona, according to the DEA. It took place in conjunction with enforcement operations in various other states.
Authorities obtained five federal search warrants in Surprise, Ariz., three in Omaha, Neb., two in Melbourne, Fla., and one in Franklin, Tenn.
Federal, state and local law enforcement agencies conducted simultaneous arrest and search warrants on suspected members of the ring and their residences Thursday in the various states. A search warrant was also served on a fitness center in Surprise.
The DEA also conducted consent searches on two Surprise storage facilities.
During the raids, agents reportedly seized more than 110 pounds of anabolic steroids, multiple packages of raw powder from China, hundreds of vials filled with anabolic steroids, capsules of various sizes, encapsulating machines, authentic-looking pharmaceutical labels, computers, and more than $150,000.
A shotgun, a handgun, various bank accounts, nine vehicles and a residence were also seized.
In January 2013, the DEA Tactical Diversion Squad initiated the investigation into a possible underground pharmaceutical operation led by Surprise resident Blaine Jared Radke, who allegedly supplied anabolic steroids to hundreds of customers throughout the country.
Radke, the 39-year-old owner of Desired Physiques Fitness Center in Surprise, reportedly used forums and blogs on steroid bodybuilding websites to conduct the illegal enterprise.
Gym members who spoke to 3TV said they never suspected any illegal steroid activity in the gym or involving the owner.
"I'm shocked," said a member who declined to be identified. "The staff is great. Blaine is a great guy. I think he'll have his day in court. It will be interesting to see what gets said."
DEA agents identified other suspected members of the ring, who allegedly assisted in the production and delivery of steroids, receipt of raw materials from China, and collection of bulk currency and wire transfers from customers.
Using his "underground" email address, Radke allegedly instructed customers to conceal payment for steroid orders in magazines and birthday cards and send them to post office boxes controlled by organization members.
On April 6, a federal grand jury in Phoenix returned a 10-count indictment against Radke, also known as Ronnie Coleman, and seven other alleged members of the ring.
Other Surprise residents indicted are 44-year-old Ismael Gonzalez, also known as Mike Gonzalez, 24-year-old Kanisha Nichelle Stewart and 43-year-old Dena Jo Olsen.
Also charged in the indictment are 33-year-old Joshua Ryan Leno, of Omaha, Neb.; 52-year-old Duane Lee McGill, of Charlotte, Mich.; 45-year-old Gregory Alexander Chambers, of Franklin, Tenn. and 41-year-old Chad Vincent Desjarlais, of Melbourne, Fla.
Radke, the alleged ringleader, and Chambers were arrested Thursday. The others were charged and summoned to appear in federal court at a later date.
The indictment charges are conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, possession with intent to distribute controlled substances, conspiracy to launder money instruments, and forfeiture allegations.
"This is a dangerous practice, especially for young people," said Special Agent Ramona Sanchez, spokeswoman for the DEA Phoenix Division. "The danger is only compounded when drug rings manufacture steroids in unsanitary, unsterilized underground labs."
The investigation was led by the DEA's Tactical Diversion Squad with assistance from the United States Postal Inspector's Service; Internal Revenue Service; Homeland Security Investigations; Mesa, Surprise and Franklin police departments; National Drug Intelligence Center Document and Media Exploitation; and the DEA's Atlanta, St. Louis and Miami field divisions.