Police investigating a high school steroids ring in Ohio revealed troubling discoveries on Tuesday, disclosing that the Cincinnati-area distribution ring was peddling drugs from China which were being processed at a secret lab in Tennessee, and distributed through multiple states with high school athletes serving as the expected customers.
According to the Associated Press, the Warren County Ohio-based ring distributed steroids to athletes in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana and relied on a massive 32-person support structure that included the likes of a bank manager, financial planner, delivery driver, health club manager and even a stay-at-home mom.
When authorities raided trailers in rural Tennessee where the drugs were being transformed from their powder form to injectable, ready-to-use steroids, they recovered nearly a million dollars worth of drugs, vehicles and cash on hand. More troubling still, they also recovered a large number of assault rifles and heavy duty firearms.
"It's pretty amazing the amount of firearms and what this organization was doing, and that is peddling this poison throughout the country," James Deir, a Cincinnati officer with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the AP.
The undercover investigation spanned two years after the Warren County Drug Task Force received two separate tips about steroid sales at an area YMCA. Trails from that initial investigation led members of that task force and others in the Cincinnati office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives office to a 45-year-old dental office receptionist named Ronald Herbort, who is now accused of mailing steroids to dealers in various parts of the country.
One of the recipients of Herbort's shipments was Matt Geraci, a 37-year-old steroids dealer who reportedly offered traditional incentives for high performing salesman, including large cash bonuses. Geraci had set up remote lockers at a Cincinnati storage part for his salesman to exchange money for their next batch of drugs to sell.
In addition to Herbort and Geraci, 30 others have been charged. All are Ohio residents save one man from Kentucky, while one of those who was charged has since died of a heart attack which -- tragically but perhaps fittingly -- was attributed to steroid abuse.
While there is no hard and fast proof that the drugs being produced were used by high school athletes, officials made it clear that they were confident teenage athletes were the primary targets of the drug operation.
"We typically think of drug abuse being done with respect to street drugs, but this demonstrates that even kids that we as a society would view as good kids can get caught up in the dangers of drug abuse," Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell told the AP.