PHOENIX -- Eight people, including four from Surprise, Ariz., have been indicted in a national underground steroid distribution ring after the Drug Enforcement Administration wrapped up a 15-month investigation.
On Thursday, federal, state and local law enforcement agencies served several search warrants on suspected members of the illegal steroid ring and on a fitness center and two storage facilities in Surprise. Agents served 11 federal search warrants in total, including five in Surprise, three in Omaha, Neb., two in Melbourne, Fla., and one in Franklin, Tenn.
"The investigation represents one of the largest steroid enforcement actions in Arizona," a DEA press release said.
During the raids, agents seized more than 110 pounds of anabolic steroids, several packages of raw powder from China, hundreds of vials of anabolic steroids, computers and more than $150,000, the DEA said. Agents also confiscated a shotgun and a handgun, several bank accounts, one residence and nine vehicles.
The DEA initially traced the underground ring to Surprise resident Blaine Jared Radke in January 2013. The DEA said the 39-year-old man had been supplying anabolic steroids to hundreds of customers across the country through online forums, blogs and websites on bodybuilding. Radke owns Desired Physiques Fitness Center in Surprise, the DEA said.
During "Operation Bad Mussels," agents began to identify other members of the ring who helped produce and deliver the steroids. The DEA said Radke used an email address to instruct customers to send cash for their steroid orders, and he would have the product sent in magazines and birthday cards to post office boxes.
Only Radke and 45-year-old Tennessee man Gregory Chambers were arrested Thursday.
Other Surprise residents who were indicted that same day are Ismael Gonzalez, 44; Nichelle Stewart, 24; and Dena Jo Olsen, 43.
"An indictment is simply a method by which a person is charged with criminal activity and raises no inference on guilt. An individual is presumed innocent until competent evidence is presented to a jury that established guilt beyond a reasonable doubt," the DEA added.