President Obama: Don’t Buy Steroids from Asia Pharma

President Barack Obama has designated steroid dealer Mihael Karner as a “kingpin” under the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act. Why is this a significant development in the United States’ war on steroids? What does it mean for individual steroid users?

The precedent-setting Karner case represents the first time a President of the United States (POTUS) has considered international steroid distribution such a serious offense that the POTUS has chosen to implement the Kingpin Act. The act was originally passed as a tool in the war against the powerful and violent Columbian and Mexican drug cartels.

Of course, these narcotics traffickers are responsible for moving psychoactive drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine into the U.S.

Karner, as the owner of the Asia Pharma steroid laboratory and various steroid ecommerce websites, is distributing performance-enhancing drugs utilized by bodybuilders and athletes to improve physical appearance, to enhance muscle size and strength and/or to improve athletic performance.

The POTUS’ decision to invoke the Kingpin Act is an indication that the U.S. considers the individuals and entities involved in the worldwide distribution of anabolic steroids as dangerous as the cartels responsible for the worldwide distribution of cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines.

The Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act is a tool that is used to legally “block” private property owned by the “significant foreign narcotics traffickers.” The “blocking” of private property is essentially equivalent to government seizure. But the taking of assets by “blocking” is even worse in that it can be maintained indefinitely. At least criminal forfeiture provides an option for judicial intervention via forfeiture proceedings.

Designating Karner as a “kingpin” gives the United States the authority to “take” all of his property and assets subject to U.S. jurisdiction.

Not only can the United States take his assets, it can take “all property and interests in property” belonging to a foreign citizen, designated by the government, who chooses to do business with Karner.

So, foreign steroid vendors who choose to buy Asia Pharma steroids from Karner may run the risk of having their assets seized by the U.S. government (if the property is subject to U.S. jurisdiction).

The Kingpin sanctions don’t stop there. Even U.S. citizens are “prohibited from engaging in any transaction or dealing in property” with Karner according to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in any transaction or dealing in property or interests in property of [SDNTK]s and from engaging in any transaction that evades or avoids the prohibitions of the Kingpin Act. These prohibitions affect trade transactions as well as accounts, securities, and other assets.

What does this mean?

If an American bodybuilder buys Asia Pharma steroids and or orders steroids from any of the many websites operated by Karner, could they be in violation of the Kingpin sanctions?

Maybe. Maybe not. The language in the Act is so broad that individuals who, even unknowingly, buy steroids from Karner could be considered in violation.

Bodybuilders who are buying steroids on the black market or over the Internet already know they are in violation of local and federal steroid laws. And the penalties for steroid possession and distribution are serious. But the penalties for violating the sanctions imposed by the Kingpin Act are in an entirely different category of seriousness.

Individuals who violate the sanctions could face up to a $5 million fine and 30 years in prison not to mention a civil penalty imposed administratively of up to $1,075,000.

This hardly seems fair for anyone who unknowingly buys steroid from Karner. After all, how many steroid users know Karner owns Asia Pharma? And how many know which steroid ecommerce websites are operated or controlled by Karner?

The likelihood that any individual bodybuilders would ever be prosecuted for unknowingly violating the sanctions seems remote. But according to broad language used in the letter of the law, it may be a possibility.

Clearly, the POTUS hopes the Kingpin sanctions  are effective in crippling Karner financially. If the designation doesn’t succeed in facilitating his extradition to the United States for prosecution, the federal government at least hopes it deters other people from conducting business with Karner.

The following is an overview of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act published by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, U.S. Department of Treasury:

What You Need to Know About U.S. Sanctions Against Drug Traffickers

The Kingpin Act blocks all property and interests in property, subject to U.S. jurisdiction, owned or controlled by significant foreign narcotics traffickers as identified by the President. In addition, the Kingpin Act blocks the property and interests in property, subject to U.S. jurisdiction, of foreign persons designated by the Secretary of Treasury, in consultation with the Attorney General, the Director of Central Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of State, who are found to be: (1) materially assisting in, or providing financial or technological support for or to, or providing goods or services in support of, the international narcotics trafficking activities of a person designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act; (2) owned, controlled, or directed by, or acting for or on behalf of, a person designated pursuant to the Kingpin Act; or (3) playing a significant role in international narcotics trafficking.

Significant foreign narcotics traffickers and foreign persons designated by the Secretary of the Treasury are referred to collectively as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers. Foreign persons designated under the Kingpin Act are referred to as “[SDNTK]s” on OFAC’s listing of “Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons” to differentiate them from the Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers named under Executive Order 12978 (see below).

U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in any transaction or dealing in property or interests in property of [SDNTK]s and from engaging in any transaction that evades or avoids the prohibitions of the Kingpin Act. These prohibitions affect trade transactions as well as accounts, securities, and other assets.

Corporate criminal penalties for violations of the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act range up to $10,000,000; individual penalties range up to $5,000,000 and 30 years in prison. Civil penalties of up to $1,075,000 may also be imposed administratively.

Owner of Asia Pharma steroid laboratory designated under Kingpin Act by President Obama

Owner of Asia Pharma steroid laboratory designated under Kingpin Act by President Obama


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