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    Four Men Jailed After UK Police Bust £40Mln Ring Which Smuggled Steroids From India

    © AFP 2019 / Yasuyoshi Chiba
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    In 2014 the UK Border Force seized more than 300 kilos of steroids which had been sent from India to an address in Belfast. Sputnik finds out who was behind the smuggling and how much they stood to gain.

    Four men were jailed on Thursday, 14 November, after being convicted in London of being part of a "sophisticated" conspiracy to smuggle or produce £40 million worth of anabolic steroids.

    Anabolic steroids are classed as a Class C drug and cannot be taken unless a patient has a prescription but they are popular among bodybuilders because they boost muscle growth.

    But in 2004 the Drug Enforcement Administration listed the many side-effects of steroid use, including mood swings, impaired judgment, depression, increased aggression, extreme irritability, hostility, and delusional behaviour.

    Boxes of anabolic steroids made by Alpha Pharma in India and smuggled to Britain for sale to bodybuilders
    © Photo : National Crime Agency
    Boxes of anabolic steroids

    So-called ‘roid rage’ has been blamed for a number of violent incidents, including the murder-suicide of US wrestler Chris Benoit, who killed his wife, Nancy, and their son, Daniel, at their home in Fayetteville, Georgia, in June 2007 and then used a weight stand to kill himself.

    Long-Russnia and Well-Organise Smuggling Conspiracy

    At the Old Bailey in London on Thursday Gurjaipal Dhillon, 65, and Nathan Selcon, 44, were jailed for their part in smuggling 15,921 kilos of anabolic steroids worth £12 million, along with the mastermind, Danish entrepreneur Jacob Sporon-Fiedler, 37, who ran a company called Alpha Pharma, based in Mumbai.

    Selcon, a former British champion bodybuilder, Mohammed Afzal, 35, and a third man, Alexander McGregor were also convicted of a separate charge relating to the illegal production of unlicensed anabolic steroids in a shipping container near London's Heathrow airport.

    Sporon-Fielder was jailed for five years and four months, Selcon was jailed for six years, Dhillon was jailed for five years and Afzal for two years. McGregor will be sentenced in January, because of his poor health.

    Sentencing the men Judge Angela Rafferty QC said the "danger of unlicensed importation of these drugs cannot be under-estimated" and she said all those involved expected to make "considerable financial gain".

    She said the smuggling conspiracy was "long-running, sophisticated and well-organised" and said the steroids were produced in Mumbai and sent to Britain "disguised with bogus documents".

    Judge Rafferty said: "There are strict licensing conditions involved in the importation of these substances. I heard uncontested evidence that there are serious health risks. There is a regulation of the market for good reason as these are powerful hormonal drugs. These licences are required to ensure public safety."

    She said the market for anabolic steroids was "growing".

    'Pharmaceutical Executive and Entrepreneur'

    After the 2014 shipment was intercepted the UK's National Crime Agency launched an investigation and traced it back to Mumbai and to Sporon-Fiedler.

    In March 2015 Sporon-Fiedler was arrested when he landed at London's Heathrow airport and was interviewed about the steroids before being charged.

    The National Crime Agency say they believe his organisation had brought over around 42 tonnes of steroids before being discovered.

    ​On his now defunct blog Sporon-Fiedler described himself as a "pharmaceutical executive and entrepreneur based in India".

    He founded Alpha-Pharma Healthcare in 2005 which, according to his blog, "specializes in high potency speciality drugs from the development to market".

    Five years later he founded Dune Medicare, a Copenhagen-based wholesale distributor but he retired as a director of that company in 2015.

    In 2010 he founded Moirae Generics, a company which was involved in "sourcing and dispensing more than 800 medicinal products" for customers worldwide.

    His most recent enterprise was Zenzi Pharmaceutical Industries, which had a factory in Murbad, a city east of Mumbai, and manufacturerd generic medicines.

    Danger of Anabolic Steroids

    In 2016 research suggested up to a million UK residents took anabolic steroids and other image- and performance-enhancing drugs to improve their appearance.

    Rob Burgess, the NCA’s regional head of investigations, said: “We believe this organised criminal group to be the most prolific of its kind ever uncovered, probably the biggest global players in the illicit anabolic steroid market. They had the ability to move tonnes of anabolic steroids into Europe where they would be sold on the black market, pocketing millions of pounds in profit. These drugs were completely unregulated and not subject to the usual stringent checks, therefore they posed potentially major health risks to those who used them.”

    He said: “This investigation has identified importations totalling almost 42 tonnes of illegal steroids, however it is likely they were responsible for far more. Intelligence supplied by the NCA has led to further seizures and criminal investigations by law enforcement partners across Europe.”

    Tags:
    Mumbai, India, Heathrow, smuggling, steroids
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