Missourians caught in international steroid busts

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Four people were charged in Missouri as part of an international investigation of illicit steroid labs, federal prosecutor John Wood announced Monday.

The four were among more than 120 people arrested in an 18-month investigation called Operation Raw Deal, which involved nine foreign countries and led to the seizure of 56 laboratories in the this country for manufacturing anabolic steroids and human growth hormone.

The investigation netted 11.4 million steroid doses, $6.5 million in cash, vehicles, boats, pill presses and weapons, the Drug Enforcement Administration said.

Indictments returned Friday in the Western District of Missouri in Kansas City charged Bryan G. Wilson, 38, of Kansas City and his ex-wife, April Wilson, 32, of Columbia with conspiring to distribute anabolic steroids. Bryan Wilson also is charged with one count of distributing anabolic steroids

Mikal Schrage, 28, of Nixa, and Jason Varner, 33, of Jefferson City, were charged in separate criminal complaints with possessing anabolic steroids with intent to distribute.

The Wilsons are alleged to have conspired to distribute steroids from 2003 to Sept. 15 by wiring money to sources in Qingdao, China, and receiving raw steroid powder in return.

Bryan Wilson allegedly used locations in Clay and Boone counties to turn the raw steroid powder into pill and liquid anabolic steroids. Then, operating under the names Pro Pharm, Pro Pharm Labs and Palmco Inc., the Wilsons distributed the anabolic steroid products to customers throughout the United States, Wood said.

After Bryan Wilson's arrest, officers seized two 200-pound pill presses, other laboratory equipment and $60,000 from his apartment in north Kansas City.

Donald Mendrala, assistant special agent in charge of the DEA's Kansas City office, said anabolic steroids are especially dangerous because they often are made in filthy conditions with dangerous chemicals.

"These are not sophisticated laboratories by any means," Mendrala said. "The tablet-making machines are a little unique, but the the labs themselves are just mason jars, coffee cans, bathtubs and sinks.

"Let's be clear, this is a drug organization, no different than any other drug organization," Mendrala said.

According to an affidavit filed in his case, Schrage was arrested by a Missouri State Highway Patrol trooper during a traffic stop Sept. 1 in Greene County. The trooper found about 5 pounds of powder anabolic steroids, contained in packages shipped from China, and 10,000 milliliters of liquid anabolic steroids.

Varner was arrested Sept. 19 after arranging to buy about $10,000 worth of anabolic steroids from a source cooperating with the investigation, Wood said. He drove to a parking lot outside of Columbia and was arrested after receiving about half the steroid order from the source. After his arrest, law enforcement officers recovered an another 44 vials of anabolic steroids from his home, the affidavit said.

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