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August 30, 2023San Diego, CA, United StatesNarcotics

HSI San Diego, multiagency case sends leader of international steroid distribution scheme to prison for 8 years

SAN DIEGO — A New York man was sentenced in federal court on Aug. 28 to 96 months in prison for leading a scheme to distribute steroids around the world and launder the substantial proceeds through cash and cryptocurrency. Special agents from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigated this case.

“This lengthy sentence is the result of an investigation into a complex global illicit counterfeit steroid production and distribution network that spanned several years, which concluded with the dismantlement of both the known U.S. and British networks of operation,” said HSI San Diego Special Agent in Charge Chad Plantz. “The egregious criminal conspiracy attempted to utilize encrypted communications, cryptocurrencies and an elaborate network of co-conspirators to obfuscate operational activity in the U.S. and abroad. I thank the several federal partners that came together to support HSI — most notably U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration — to dismantle these operations.”

According to admissions in the plea agreement, James Charles Rivera, 32, of New York, operated on the dark web under the moniker “JuicePal.” He arranged and directed the distribution of steroids in nearly every state in the United States, as well as to Canada, Germany, Australia, and countries in the United Kingdom and the European Union from 2018 to 2021. He used encrypted communications and internet access methods to avoid detection and took in millions of dollars in virtual currency and cash as proceeds from thousands of sales. Rivera also worked with several co-conspirators in the United States who were responsible for manufacturing steroids, shipping them to customers, receiving cash payments and forwarding proceeds to him. Rivera, a U.S. citizen, ran the operation for years while living abroad.

“This defendant thought he could hide his international steroid distribution network and money laundering by operating on the dark web, but we have shined a bright light on his crimes,” said acting U.S. Attorney Andrew Haden.

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is committed to identifying, investigating and disrupting these criminal organizations to protect our communities from the distribution of these dangerous drugs through our postal system,” said Los Angeles Postal Inspector in Charge Carroll Harris.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Owen Roth.

This case is the result of ongoing efforts by the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF), a partnership that brings together the combined expertise and unique abilities of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, dismantle, and prosecute high-level members of drug trafficking, weapons trafficking and money laundering organizations and enterprises.

HSI is the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically those criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI’s workforce of more than 8,700 employees consists of more than 6,000 special agents assigned to 237 cities throughout the United States, and 93 overseas locations in 56 countries. HSI’s international presence represents DHS’ largest investigative law enforcement presence abroad and one of the largest international footprints in U.S. law enforcement.

Updated: 08/30/2023