Bootleg Steroid Dealer Is Given Stiff Sentence
A 28-year-old San Diego man received a 71-month federal prison sentence Friday for masterminding what prosecutors called a highly sophisticated, multimillion-dollar operation that sold bootleg anabolic steroids. The operation was run from a local halfway house where the man was serving part of a previous sentence for the illegal sale of the drug.
Eric F. Kelly used hotels, rental cars, fictitious names, mail drop boxes, a business address in Mexico and express mail services to distribute the drug that he illegally obtained by duping legitimate manufacturers.
U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials Friday called the Kelly sentence one of the harshest ever for steroid trafficking, signaling a get-tough policy against a black market it says peddles millions of dollars of the drug a year.
Anabolic steroids and androgenic hormones are chemical derivatives of testosterone, the male sex hormone. In recent years, an estimated $150-million to $400-million black market has developed to serve the continued use of steroids to enhance athletic performance and appearance, prosecutors say.
Authorities said Kelly and a co-conspirator who had recently been released from the halfway house contacted steroid manufacturers to learn about their distributors. They would then set up bogus orders from the manufacturer and sell the drugs once they were received.
Kelly also purchased several pharmaceutical manufacturing devices designed to counterfeit anabolic steroids and set up a working lab in Mexico, producing tens of thousands of vials of counterfeit steroids that were sold in the United States.