Jacob Sporon-Fiedler, the founder and chief executive officer of Alpha Pharma Healthcare, has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to import a controlled class C drug (anabolic steroids) contrary to the Customs & Excise Management Act. Sporon-Fielder entered the plea at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales (“The Old Bailey”) on June 28, 2018.
Sporon-Fiedler was arrested along with five other alleged co-conspirators. The defendants have been linked to the illegal importation of over £80 million ($100 million) in Alpha Pharma products.
Sporon-Fiedler is a Danish citizen. His five co-conspirators are all British citizens. Two of the co-conspirators were identified as Gurjaipal Dhillon and Mohammed Afzal.
The Alpha Pharma CEO pleaded guilty. Five of his co-conspirators have not.
Sporon-Fiedler was the only party to plead guilty. The two publicly-identified co-defendants pleaded not guilty and have requested a jury trial trial. The trial is scheduled to take place at The Old Bailey in February 2019 and April 2019.
Sporon-Fiedler was arrested during an airport transfer occurring at London Heathrow Airport on March 26, 2018. Unbeknownst to Sporon-Fiedler, the Alpha Pharma executive was the target of a four-year investigation by the UK National Crime Agency (UK-NCA).
The UK-NCA launched an investigation into Sporon-Fiedler and Alpha Pharma after UK Border Force agents intercepted over 630 kilograms of Alpha Pharma branded anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs destined for Belfast in 2014.
Alpha Pharma products continue to be widely available on the Internet from various steroid sources in the United Kingdom and European Union. In fact, Alpha Pharma steroids are so easy to obtain that few customers are aware that the company’s Chief Executive Officer was arrested.
The widespread availability of Alpha Pharma products may seem surprising but could be explained by a couple of reasons.
Alpha Pharma Healthcare, as an independent corporate entity registered in India, may continue to operate in spite of the arrest of its CEO. Its legal (and illicit) pharmaceutical distribution channels are well-established and may continue to operate independently of Sporon-Fiedler’s involvement.
Even if Alpha Pharma ceased to operate upon the arrest of Sporon-Fiedler, it is possible that there was a significant inventory of Alpha Pharma product in distribution warehouses around to world to satisfy demand for several months or even years.
Keep in mind that 630 kilograms of Alpha Pharma products were seized in 2014 alone. Thousands of additional kilograms of product could have been imported in the UK and EU over the four intervening years prior to Sporon-Fiedler’s arrest.
The Alpha Pharma bust introduces considerable uncertainty regarding the future of the brand on the underground market. Everything should come into clearer focus following the conclusion of Dhillon and Afzal’s trials and the sentencing of Sporon-Fiedler in 2019. Sporon-Fiedler reportedly faces up to 14 years in prison.
NCA. (June 29, 2018). Danish national pleads guilty to steroid smuggling charges. Retrieved from nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/news/1403-danish-national-pleads-guilty-to-steroid-smuggling-charges