The Hague, 30 March 2023
With the support of Eurojust and Europol, the Romanian and Moldovan authorities have taken action against an organised crime group (OCG) suspected of trafficking high-risk doping substances. During a joint action, 11 suspects were arrested, and raw materials intended for the production of more than one million doses of anabolic steroids were seized. Eurojust assisted the authorities in setting up and funding a joint investigation team (JIT) into the case.
Anabolic steroids are synthetic substances that mimic the action of male sex hormones, such as testosterone, and are commonly used to increase muscle mass, strength and athletic performance. However, their use can lead to various serious cardiovascular side effects, including liver and kidney problems, as well as psychological disorders and cancer risks. Improper use or abuse of anabolic steroids can also lead to overdose, which can sometimes be fatal.
According to the investigation, the raw material used for the preparation of the doping substances was brought from China disguised as imported pharmaceutical substances. The packaging indications and the import prices were false.
The final production of the anabolic substances took place in a clandestine laboratory established in Romania. The equipment and storage facilities did not comply with any sanitary hygiene standards.
The final product was distributed in many European Union countries. To secure as many customers as possible, the OCG used labels of well-known brands in the field.
The purchase of the active substances and the distribution of the finished products were undertaken through markets on the darknet. The transactions were also partly undertaken in cryptocurrencies to make them more difficult to trace.
Initial estimates show that the OCG obtained over EUR 1 million through this criminal activity, which was used for luxurious living and invested in luxury items and real estate in the Republic of Moldova.
In a joint action on 29 March, 11 suspects were detained. A total of 37 searches were carried out, including 15 in Romania and 22 in Moldova. Active substances and other raw materials for the production of more than one million doses of anabolic steroids were seized, together with cash and luxury items.
Eurojust supported the authorities involved in setting up and funding a JIT in November 2022.
Europol also provided operational support to the national authorities involved.
The following authorities took part in this investigation:
- Romania: Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism Iasi, Brigades for Countering Organized Crime Iasi, București, Constanța, Sibiu,
- Republic of Moldova: Prosecutor’s Office for Combatting Organized Crime and for Special Cases