A criminal group specialising in the trafficking of anabolic steroids from Asia to Europe has been dismantled leading to the arrest of 24 in Slovakia, according to the European Judicial agency Eurojust.
Several thousand steroid tablets, growth hormones and drugs, and two tonnes of non-compliant food supplements were seized during raids on properties in Poland and Ukraine. Over two million euros in criminal assets were also confiscated, Slovak media reports.
Anabolic steroids are often used in amateur sports as well as in gyms and fitness centres to enhance performances and for the creation of muscle mass but pose serious health risks and can be lethal when overdosed.
The raids marked the conclusion of a two-year investigation that was initiated by the gendarmarie in the Toulouse region of France, where the traffickers supplied shops specialising in food supplements.
This led to the opening of a judicial investigation by the public health department of the Paris judicial court in November 2018 and the arrest this month of the main dealer in France and two of his accomplices.
Investigators seized 1,000 tablets, 224 ampoules and 23 vials of anabolic steroids and hormone modulators.
Once the French authorities became aware of the international scope of the organisation, they called on the assistance of Europol and Eurojust to coordinate the investigation with their counterparts in Slovakia, Poland and Ukraine.
“The [Organised Criminal Group] operated from Slovakia and was active in the wholesale import of anabolic steroids from China and other East Asian countries. The drugs were processed into pills and ready-to-use injections in Poland and offered online via websites which were managed from Slovakia. The illegal drugs were transported from Slovakia and Poland,” Eurojust said in a press release.
“At least 9.300 kilos of steroids have been sold to customers, in particular in France, but in other countries as well,” over the past few months, Eurojust added.
In a statement released on Social media, Slovakia’s National Crime Agency NAKA said it had conducted searches on 15 houses and 7 non-residential buildings in the Banská Bystrica, Žilina, Bratislava and Nitra regions.
Fourteen bank accounts, containing 220,000 euros were frozen and assets worth 520,000 euros, including two buildings, six cars and a number of weapons belonging to the suspected gang leader were also confiscated.