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Human Smuggling/Trafficking

Virginia doctor arrested for illegal steroids activity linked to Florida

TAMPA, Fla. - The Polk County Sheriff's Office (PCSO) and U.S. Marshals arrested a doctor at his home in Reston, Va., on March 23 related to a steroid smuggling investigation conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Tampa and Philadelphia and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in Philadelphia.

Dr. Douglas Owen Nagel, 50, was arrested on a state warrant out of Polk County, Fla., on seven counts of solicitation to deliver a controlled substance, and one count of conspiracy to deliver a controlled substance.

On May 21, 2009, CBP officers in Philadelphia intercepted a package containing illicit steroids, including Nandrolone Decanoate (DECA), human growth hormone (HGH), and other performance-enhancing drugs, destined for the home of Richard Thomas of Lakeland, Fla., in Polk County, from the Slovak Republic and contacted ICE agents in Philadelphia.

On May 26, 2009, ICE agents in Tampa, in conjunction with undercover PCSO narcotics detectives, served a state search warrant at Thomas's home. The search warrant uncovered multiple firearms, a large stash of over $200,000 worth of illegal steroids, and extensive documents, including shipping labels showing that Thomas had received steroids from around the world, including Bulgaria, China, the Czech Republic, Greece, India, Iran, Moldova, Pakistan, Russia, the Slovak Republic, Thailand, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.

In October 2009, Thomas pled guilty to possession with intent to distribute steroids and is awaiting federal sentencing on March 31.

The joint investigation by ICE and PCSO revealed that Dr. Nagel, a chiropractor who maintains two offices in the Virginia/Washington, D.C. area, had been purchasing anabolic steroids for at least a year from Thomas. Thomas told detectives that Dr. Nagel told him that he (Dr. Nagel) worked with professional athletes in the Washington, D.C. area and that he had boasted about supplying steroids to these athletes. PCSO has no conclusive evidence or proof that Nagel has provided any steroids to any professional athletes.

"ICE focuses not only on keeping illegal products out of the United States, but also on identifying and dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity," said Sue McCormick, special agent in charge of the ICE Office of Investigations in Tampa. "ICE uses its unique customs and immigration authorities to attack and dismantle smuggling organizations-whether they smuggle drugs or people-across borders."

The Office of the State Attorney for the 10th Judicial Circuit in Florida is prosecuting the case. The U.S. Postal Service also assisted in the investigation.