Two men involved in the domestic distribution of Sciroxx-brand anabolic steroids have pleaded guilty in the United States District Court in Providence. Edmond Paolucci and Patrick Cunningham admitted responsibility for importing bulk quantities of steroids and ancillary drugs, repackaging them in retail-size units with the Sciroxx label and shipping them to customers in the United States.
Paolucci received 650-milliliter jugs containing injectable testosterone enanthate, boldenone undecylenate and trenbolone acetate and bulk quantities of oral steroid tablets. He also received prescription ancillary drugs such as Pregnyl (hCG), T3, Arimidex (anastrozole), Teva tamoxifen and Serpafar clomiphene from Turkey and Bulgaria. The steroids were shipped to various postal boxes scattered throughout Rhode Island, Massachusets and Connecticut.
Paolucci and Cunningham maintained an underground laboratory where they repackaged the injectable and oral steroids into retail-sized units branded with the Sciroxx (and Xsorox) label. The oral steroid tablets were distributed in pouches while the injectable steroids were distributed in 10-milliliter vials.
Paolucci was responsible for fulfilling domestic internet orders made via websites that he and his Israeli co-conspirators owned and operated. Paolucci collected money from customers and sent the proceeds to Israel via Western Union and Moneygram using his own and fictitious names.
Western Union and Moneygram gave federal investigators detailed records of transactions totalling in excess of $76,000 sent by Paolucci to Israel.
Paolucci pleaded guilty to the following on November 1, 2012:
- one count of conspiracy to distribute anabolic steroids (for working with Cunningham and unnamed Israeli co-conspirators);
- one count of possession with intent to distribute anabolic steroids (for repackaging and remailing Sciroxx-brand steroids);
- one count of distribution of a misbranded drug (for distributing non-controlled, non-FDA approved ancillary drugs imported from overseas e.g.as hCG, Clomid, Nolvadex, Arimidex, etc.); and
- two counts of money laundering (for wiring proceeds to Israel via Western Union and Moneygram).
Paolucci and Cunningham were busted almost 18 months ago on November 15, 2011. Paolucci pleaded guilty almost five months ago. Cunningham pleaded guilty three days ago. The bust and subsequent plea agreements were not immediately announced to protect the confidentiality of an ongoing criminal investigation.
The scope of the ongoing investigation was not revealed. However, a press release by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Rhode Island indicated that the federal government worked closely with its international counterparts in Israel during the investigation of the Israeli-based international steroid distribution ring.
United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha and Mark Dragonetti, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Criminal Investigation, acknowledged the assistance of international counterparts at the Israel Ministry of Health, Division of Enforcement and Inspection, and Jerusalem Customs and VAT who provided significant assistance in the investigation of this matter.
The cooperation with Israeli law enforcement officials provides additional evidence that the long-arm of U.S. steroid law enforcement is becoming increasingly aggressive.
The U.S. government has shown it is more than willing to go after the biggest international sources around the world especially if they have domestic operations within the United States.
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration Office of Criminal Investigations (FDA-OCI) have attempted to disrupt and extradite the major players in the underground steroid trade with varying degrees of success over the past several years.
- In 2008, the U.S. government pressured Thailand to arrest Edwin Crawley and Ashley Livingston of British Dragon on steroid charges; they were subsequently extradited to the United States where they were convicted and incarcerated.
- In 2010, the feds set up a covert operation with agents on the ground in Cyprus to assist in the arrest of the purported principals behind Musclebear (Euro Chem Labs). Oleksandr “Lsex” Skochyk and Yvgeniy “Eugene” Suray were extradited to the United States where they were convicted and incarcerated. A domestic remailer for Musclebear claimed that the real owner got away.
- In 2011, U.S. law enforcement pressured Austria to use their “Einsatzkommando COBRA” counter-terrorism special ops unit to arrest Mihael Karner, the owner of an alleged 40 million euro steroid empire. Federal prosecutors in Massachusetts were confident of a successful extradition. However, Austria foiled their plan when they extradited him to Slovenia after he paid them one million euros!
- In 2012, the DEA worked with the Straży Granicznej officials in Poland in an attempt to shut down the Uncle Z (Z-Pharma Labs, Euro-Pharmacies) steroid operation. Two men were detained and 666,000 steroid tablets, 19,000 steroid vials and 5,500 steroid ampoules were confiscated. But there are strong indications that the owner may have eluded authorities.
- In 2013, Brian Wainstein (Axio Labs and GenXXL Gear), was finally arrested in South Africa. The Department of Justice is attempting to extradite Wainstein to face multiples counts of steroid distribution in a U.S. court.
The latest Department of Justice press release has acknowledged that it it talking to the Israeli government and asking questions about Sciroxx. What does this mean? Clearly, Sciroxx is on its radar. Is Sciroxx a target in an ongoing investigation? Or do the DEA and FDA-OCI have bigger international fish to fry?