‘87 Mr. Universe Held on Charge of Dealing in Anabolic Steroids

Times Staff Writer

A Brazilian body builder from Marina del Rey who won a Mr. Universe title in 1987 has been arrested in Ohio on suspicion of trafficking in muscle-enhancing steroids, U.S. Customs officials in Los Angeles said Saturday.

Customs spokesman John Miller said Luis Batista Freitas, 33, was taken into custody Friday night in Columbus, where he was participating in the Arnold Schwarzenegger Classic contest sponsored by the International Federation of Body Builders.

The April issue of Muscle and Fitness magazine features an article on Freitas and an advertisement in which he tells how he achieved body-building success without using steroids.

Anabolic steroids are drugs used to enhance strength and muscle size. While available through prescription, they cannot be used legally for non-medical purposes. Doctors say steroids are dangerous because they may cause impotence, sterility, premature heart disease, strokes, liver failure and cancer.


Learned of Shipment

Customs officials said their investigation of Freitas began last month after agents learned that a shipment of steroids had been sent from Brazil to a Los Angeles post office box registered to Freitas, Richard Santos and Lowell Moss Coble. Coble was arrested Feb. 27 on charges of illegal importation of steroids and intent to distribute the drug.

On March 3, the agents intercepted a shipment of 11,000 tablets of Lipidex, a brand name of anabolic steroids. The agents said that when they delivered the shipment to the destination to which it was addressed--the Woodland Hills home of Freitas’ mother, Doris Batista Freitas--she indicated the drugs were for her son.

The body builder, his mother and Santos were charged Thursday with conspiracy and illegal possession of steroids with intent to distribute them.


Agents said they searched Freitas’ home in Marina del Rey on Friday and found 500 steroid tablets, two dozen vials containing liquid steroids and several syringes.

They said Freitas won the International Federation of Body Builders world amateur men’s championship in 1987, which earned him the title of Mr. Universe.