On April 9, several French departments, Belgium and Luxemburg were the scene of a vast synchronized legal operation. Around twenty people were arrested, including the founder and CEO of a pharmaceutical laboratory in the Lyon region suspected of masterminding this trafficking.
The enquiry began at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport
This story goes back to September 2016, when French Customs officials at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle Airport intercepted a parcel of anabolic products. These stimulants from Thailand were meant for delivery to a bodybuilder in the Rhone region.
Investigators soon unearthed a network of several bodybuilders across Lyon who had been buying and reselling doping products. Alongside this, the directors of a pharmaceutical laboratory in the Lyon region specialized in food supplements and sports sponsorship had been laundering money. Investigators will be looking into how the trafficking was funded, as it might be connected to the same ringleaders.
Up to ten years imprisonment
In total, fifteen to twenty of those arrested have been indicted and face prison sentences of up to ten years. A total of €3,132,355 in criminal assets were seized, including two villas and several kilos of anabolic steroids. As OCLAESP’s teams recently commented: “such confiscations, be they cash, real estate, luxury cars… are one of the effective ways of neutralizing the criminal networks behind falsified medicine trade”.
The health risk behind the trafficking
The seizure of these anabolic products is certainly an important step. It has put a stop to a profitable trafficking activity, but above all to a consumer health hazard.
While the products consumed are not necessarily dangerous in themselves, their misuse poses a risk. Certainly, it is mainly products such as anticancer drugs and liver and kidney treatments that are abused to gain muscle mass.
Moreover, “when you consume exogenous steroids, the body stops making its own. This can lead to erectile disfunction among men”, explains Major Alain Lemangnen (OCLAESP). He goes to on add, “The consumption of fraudulent erectile treatments often goes hand in hand with the use of doping products”.