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Intellectual Property Rights
04/04/2013

Southern California couple suspected of manufacturing and distributing steroids

Pair arrested overnight after search of Orange County home

Chemicals, pills and weapons seized following discovery of suspected steroids lab
Chemicals, pills and weapons seized following discovery of suspected steroids lab

IRVINE, Calif. — An Orange County couple were taken into custody Wednesday night after federal and local investigators searched their Irvine home and uncovered evidence of an apparent large-scale steroid distribution scheme.

Carlos Hernandez, 27, and his wife, Roxanne Hernandez, 30, both of Irvine, were arrested by special agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and detectives with the Irvine Police Department. They are being held on suspicion of transporting or selling a controlled substance; possessing a controlled substance; conspiring to engage in these activities; as well as a weapons charge related to the seizure of several large capacity magazines.

"The underground production and sale of steroids poses a serious health threat," said Claude Arnold, special agent in charge for HSI Los Angeles. "These are powerful chemicals under any circumstances, but the risks increase exponentially when you're dealing with homemade counterfeits that are being taken without a doctor's supervision."

"There is no higher priority than for us to remove dangerous drugs and illegal weapons from our community," said Irvine Police Chief Dave Maggard. "We are grateful for the cooperative relationships we have with our partners at Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection."

The joint probe into the possible steroid distribution scheme began after U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) personnel intercepted two packages at a Bay Area mail screening facility addressed to the couple that were each found to contain approximately four pounds of steroids in powdered form.

"One of Customs and Border Protection's primary roles is intercepting anything that can harm the American public," said Brian J. Humphrey, CBP director of field operations in San Francisco. "This operation is a prime example of how CBP, HSI and local law enforcement work in partnership to keep dangerous substances and their distributors off the streets."

Late Wednesday, after arranging a controlled delivery of one of the parcels, investigators executed a search warrant at the couple's home. Inside, they found equipment and chemicals they suspect were being used to convert the powdered steroids into liquid form. They also discovered 40 vials of a substance thought to be steroids and approximately 20,000 pills, which will be tested for the presence of steroids. In addition, investigators found adhesive labels, packaging materials and shipping boxes. Authorities believe some of the steroids were being sold locally, but evidence also suggests the suspects were making shipments to buyers throughout the U.S. and internationally.

During the search of the Irvine home, investigators also seized five weapons, including three handguns, a shotgun and a rifle with a several large capacity magazines, along with more than $6,000 in cash.

The suspects were each booked into the Orange County Jail in lieu of $500,000 bail. The case is being presented to the Orange County District Attorney's Office for prosecution.