FDA, INTERPOL, and DEA Take Down Online Steroid Sites

Update: In a completely different crackdown, the DEA has also published their US arrest report – 18 individuals on the east coast have been arrested, each facing a max penalty of 20 years in prison.[4]

The FDA - Food and Drug Administration

This doesn’t seem to have much to do with the 2014 DASCA Prohormone Ban, but it’s close enough that the “industry” better watch out.

During the week of June 9 to June 16, the FDA and INTERPOL joined forces for a major crackdown on “online pharmacies” and websites selling everything from steroids to PCT drugs to cancer medication.[1]

FDA Raid Details

Here are the major bullet points of this takedown:

  • 156 arrests worldwide
  • $81.69 million in fake drugs seized[2]
  • FDA: 1,050 websites “raided” or had action taken upon them[1]
  • INTERPOL: 2,414 websites taken offline[3]
  • 115 countries were involved (INTERPOL has serious reach)
  • Private sector involvement: Google, MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal all assisted[3]
  • DEA: 18 individuals arrested.[4]

Throughout the course of a week, of the pharmaceutical websites that were monitored, some 150,000 packages were inspected by customs / regulatory authorities, and 50,000 were seized.[3]

That is an astronomical amount of volume, so much that INTERPOL is calling the operation (codenamed Operation Pangea VIII) the “largest ever Internet-based operation focusing on the illicit sales of medicines and medical devices”.[3]

Products called out

The FDA’s and INTERPOL’s releases point out the following specifically:

“We are beginning to see more established criminal groups entering this space… Risk is low and the profits are very high.

Counterfeit medicines are the most profitable source across the whole criminal spectrum”

— Alastair Jeffrey, MHRA head of enforcement[2]

  • “Generic Nolvadex”[2]
  • “Generic Meridia”
  • “Generic Valium”
  • “Generic Truvada”, and
  • “Generic Advair Diskus”
  • DNP[3]

Of those, Nolvadex (tamoxifen citrate) is of concern to some bodybuilders, as it’s used as a SERM (Selective Estrogen Receptor Modulator) that works as an anti-estrogen agent. It’s actually a drug used to fight breast cancer, but has these other properties that make it attractive on the black market.

Some medical devices such as colon cleansing systems were also called out.

DEA Arrest Updates

On June 17, 2015, the DEA named 18 individuals who were arrested in a string operation by their Miami Field Division. They are charged with conspiracy to manufacture, distribute, and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances, and each face a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.[4]

As if the FDA / INTERPOL news wasn’t enough, it’s now very clear that there’s an international law enforcement effort underway, and we won’t be surprised to hear about more to come.

We’ve been told that this DEA action is different than the FDA and INTERPOL’s. Steroid traffickers are being hit from every angle.

Will this affect me?

Chances are, for our average reader, it won’t have any effects on your life or your favorite online store.

But for others, and you know who you are, there’s a good likelihood that supplies are going to be disrupted and some of your favorite websites may cease to exist.

What’s going to happen next?

“Gangs are moving away from cocaine and heroin to focus on health products, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) warned.”

— Ben Spencer, Daily Mail Correspondent

Although this does not seem directly related to DASCA and the 2014 Prohormone ban, it’s very clear that the government noose is tightening on these illegal drugs.

If that’s indeed the case, then one can foresee more demand for SARMs, which in turn is going to create more domestic producers… which will likely lead to more FDA intervention later on. The high-stakes game of cat and mouse continues.

As INTERPOL stated, this was 2x larger than their previous attack, and they are definitely not going away.

While the DailyMail article quoted someone as saying ‘Counterfeit medicines are the most profitable source across the whole criminal spectrum,’ he added. ‘We are beginning to see more established criminal groups entering this space. Risk is low and the profits are very high.’ the authorities are making it clear that this isn’t a market they’re going to be ignoring.

Be careful out there, folks. “Ill-gotten gains have no lasting value.”

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References

  1. FDA takes action to protect consumers from potentially dangerous counterfeit medicines and devices sold online; June 18, 2015; Retrieved from http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm451755.htm
  2. Spencer, B; Fake slimming pills, erectile dysfunction tablets, condoms and cancer drugs seized in £51.6 million global crackdown on counterfeit medicines; The Daily Mail; June 18, 2015; Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3129627/Fake-slimming-pills-erectile-dysfunction-tablets-condoms-cancer-drugs-seized-51-6-million-crackdown-counterfeit-medicines.html
  3. INTERPOL-coordinated operation strikes at organized crime with seizure of 20 million illicit medicines; June 18, 2015; Retrieved from http://www.interpol.int/News-and-media/News/2015/N2015-082
  4. Eighteen Charged in Steroid Trafficking Ring; Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); Miami Field Division; Retrieved from http://www.dea.gov/divisions/mia/2015/mia061715.shtml
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