Joint DEA, FDA, Postal Inspectors, HACIENDA, NIE, and PRPD Investigation Results in the Arrest of Twelve Anabolic Steroids Traffickers
APR 29-- H.S. García, United States Attorney, District of Puerto Rico, Jerome Harris, Special Agent in Charge, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Ralph Culkin, Acting Resident Agent in Charge, Food and Drug Administration, Office of Criminal Investigations,(FDA-OCI), Manuel Gonzalez-Latimer, Postal Inspector in Charge, US Postal Inspectors, Juan A. Flores-Galarza, Secretary, Puerto Rico Department of Treasury (HACIENDA), Nelson Espinell, Director, P.R. Justice Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (NIE), and Agustín Cartagena, Superintendent, Puerto Rico Police Department, announced today that on April 21, 2004, a Federal Grand Jury indicted twelve (12) persons on charges of conspiracy to posses with intent to distribute and distribution of anabolic steroids, controlled substances under federal law . The suspects were charged with violations to Title 21, United States Code, Sections 841(a)(1) and 846. Narcotics forfeiture charges were also filed in order to seize properties and/or bank accounts up to a value of 1 million dollars.
This organization, led by Luis A. Figueroa-Rijo and Félix Castro-Marquez, had as its primary objective the smuggling and distribution of anabolic steroids at various locations in Puerto Rico for significant financial gain and profit. Figueroa-Rijo and Castro-Márquez traveled in and outside of the United States to purchase the anabolic steroids for resale in Puerto Rico and elsewhere. According to the indictment, the two leaders would provide the smuggled illegal steroids to at least six other trusted members of the organization, who specialized in performing duties as retailers and mid level distributors.
Members of this organization made extensive use of the U.S. Postal Service for their smuggling activities. The charged members also used residences, businesses, and/or vehicles in order to secrete, store, transport and package anabolic steroids and drug proceeds. These anabolic steroids were distributed throughout many municipalities in Puerto Rico, including Bayamón, Carolina, Cayey, Caguas, San Juan and Río Piedras. This indictment also alleges that “ Los Especiales Sportware Store” located in Santurce, PR, was used as a steroid distribution center.
The following twelve (12) individuals were indicted by a Grand Jury and arrested in relation to the above-mentioned charges:
Penalties for convictions of the offenses alleged in the indictment include a maximum penalty of 5 years of imprisonment, and fines up to $250,000 dollars. Defendants with prior felony drug convictions face a statutory maximum penalty of 10 years of imprisonment, and fines up to $500,000 dollars.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial and the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
These indictments are the result of a joint investigation conducted by agents of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), US Postal Inspectors, the Puerto Rico Treasury Department (HACIENDA), the Puerto Rico Justice Department’s Special Investigations Bureau (NIE), the Puerto Rico Police Department, and the US Attorney’s Office. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel J. Vaccaro.