Friday, September 28, 2007

Drug Ring Relates to 37 China Companies Raided in U.S, 124 Arrested in 4 Days

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT, New York Times, September 24, 2007-

The Drug Enforcement Administration said today that 124 people had been arrested across the country over the past four days in connection with a performance-enhancing drug trafficking ring.

Officials said the investigation, named Operation Raw Deal, started with more than 30 Chinese companies, which were shipping raw materials needed to make steroids and human growth hormone to manufacturers and labs in the United States and nine other countries.

Since Thursday, the federal government has raided 56 sites in the United States and seized 242 kilograms of steroid and 1.4 million units of steroid dosage.

The facilities in which the drugs were manufactured included the basements of homes, garages, bathrooms and medical laboratories, the authorities said.

No names of athletes have been linked to the investigation yet, officials said, but thousands of e-mails connecting users to the manufacturers were seized by the federal government.

“We will be identifying all the end users,” John Gilbride, a special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration in New York, said at a news conference today at the administration’s offices in downtown Manhattan. “We do have the lists of a lot of individuals and will be going through them. They may not all be prosecuted, but we will be identifying them.”

Rusty Payne, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration in Washington said: “If we come across names, are we going to provide them to the leagues? That is going to be the decision of the Department of Justice and the United States attorney’s offices that have those aspects of the case.”

Although the government has not gone through the trove of information connecting users to the steroid ring, Payne said: “We have the ability to identify individual customers, and that should send chills down the spines of athletes and high school and college students who were buying from these manufacturers. We can find you, based on our database.”

Payne said Chinese authorities were cooperating with the investigation.

“Rather than publicly name and indict these companies in China,” he said, “we thought it would be more effective to work with Chinese law enforcement partners and provide them with information so they could go after the companies, which includes as many as 37, that were shipping raw materials. “They have agreed to move forward with their investigation in China.

“There are a lot of sensitive things that go into dealing with a nation like China. We are pleased so far they have done everything we have asked them to, they have agreed to accept the reports and move forward and that is unprecedented.”

The drug case came at a time when the quality of imports from China have become an issue in the two countries. Tens of thousands of toys made in China have been recalled in recent weeks on suspicion of having unacceptably high level of lead in paint and other hazards for small children. Some Chinese-made toothpaste was found to contain a chemical usually used in automotive antidreeze and not intended for human consumption.

Payne said the World Anti-Doping Agency and the United States Anti-Doping Agency had been partners in the investigation, which has spanned 18-months……. ( more details from the New york Times: U.S. Arrests 124 in Raids on Global Steroid Ring)

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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