Finding an illegal steroid dealer in Edmonton is “easier than finding a pot dealer,” according to a former user.
“They’re everywhere,” said the man, who spoke on condition of anonymity. “If you know where to ask around, you’ll be hooked up in an hour or two.”
That’s why he wasn’t surprised to hear that city police seized more than $250,000 in steroids and a small amount of counterfeit Viagra, along with nearly $500,000 in cash and property after busting up what they’re calling a family-run lab and distribution centre on the north side.
Three houses were raided. Drugs and other evidence were found at a house near 141 Avenue and 136 Street and an apartment at 129 Avenue and 64 Street, while police believe the chemicals were mixed and packaged in a lab at a home near 140 Street and 158A Avenue.
A father, mother, their two adult sons and another man face a laundry list of charges in connection with producing and trafficking controlled substances, along with possessing the proceeds of crime.
Police say they’ve broken up “an extremely large distribution centre for Edmonton and the surrounding area” that was also a mail-order distributor across Canada.
The entire investigation was a bit of a fluke, said the head of the Edmonton police organized crime branch.
Insp. Greg Preston couldn’t give a lot of detail, but said they came across the steroids while conducting another investigation.
“This was a spinoff of that,” he said. “We don’t typically get involved with steroid files. It’s certainly not for a lack of use — quite clearly. We just don’t get that many complaints.”
Preston said possessing and using steroids isn’t illegal. However, because they’re controlled substances, it is a crime to make them and sell them on the street.
“This is a homegrown lab. I’m quite confident Johnson & Johnson wouldn’t have pets and food around them in their laboratory,” Preston said. “Look at the vials and machinery. It doesn’t look too clean.”
Among the materials seized was a book entitled Anabolic Steroids and Making Them by Professor Frank. The publisher’s website lists it as a do-it-yourself manual, and describes the author as a retired auto worker currently employed at Wal-Mart.
Preston said the accused aren’t suspected of using their own products, and while police don’t know how long they’ve been flying under their radar, the suspects “appear well-entrenched.”
“It would take some time to accrue these assets,” he said, referring to $240,000 in cash found in safe deposit boxes and $230,000 in property, including four high-end and classic cars.
The aforementioned former steroid user, who used them for five years and quit a year ago, said his strength and muscle bulk increased dramatically over time, but they also gave him a hair-trigger temper, depression and acne across his back.
There’s such a ram-pant appetite for steroids in Edmonton, he said, that the recent police seizure will hardly affect the market because someone else will just take their place.
The public is more worried about other drugs like cocaine and speed, the man said, because steroid users don’t contribute to street crime, like break-ins and car thefts. “They won’t break into your home to get their next hit,” he said. “But they probably commit more assaults and domestic abuse.”
Charged are: Troy Charles Fougere, 26, Trevor Raymond Fougere, 25, Susan Ann Fougere, 52, Charles William Fougere, 53, and Brock Reginald Chichak, 25.