Who knows how
long the impact will last? New labs are rumored to be springing up already in
Mexico. Anabolic steroids are also available through the Internet from dozens
of other countries, including Australia, India, Russia, Thailand and Turkey.
Every known steroid is for sale--as are ones not yet known. A Chinese company
contacted by an SI reporter last year offered not only to sell him THG, but
also to concoct a variation of it that would be undetectable to drug
One critic of
Operation Gear Grinder, William Llewellyn, author of the exhaustive steroid
guidebook Anabolics 2006, says, "Nobody wants kids taking steroids, but all
this is going to do is drive the market further underground. You'll see more
counterfeit [steroids] and more tainted products, which can cause infections or
worse." Indeed, there have already been reports of counterfeits showing up
in Mexico. "One new product came out last week," says Vel�zquez, the
farm�cia owner, "but it looks like a bad imitation. It looks like it was
cooked up in someone's house."
The U.S. end of
the steroid pipeline also is difficult to police. Personal trainers and gym
junkies continue to push the drugs at fitness clubs. Some of them expand their
territory and become "remailers," who are paid to receive packages from
foreign websites or smugglers and redirect them to clients within the U.S.
Those efforts are designed to confuse law enforcement and protect buyers from
being directly linked to the original source of the drugs.
Kids often end up
as part of the distribution chain. Once a youngster is using steroids he can be
easily converted into a foot soldier for his supplier. "The kid is fronted
some steroids he can't afford," says DEA agent Doug Coleman. "What
happens when you can't pay? You are now a distributor because you need to pay
off the debt. Next thing you know these kids are selling to their
challenges remain daunting, Operation Gear Grinder proved that victories are at
least possible in the fight against steroids. To celebrate, Jack and Hooton sat
in a Mexican restaurant near San Diego after the indictments were announced,
sharing a pitcher of frozen margaritas.
"Don, I don't
know why I watched 60 Minutes that night," Jack said, suggesting it was
fate. The two men talked for hours, about Gear Grinder and their families. When
Hooton tried to thank him for his work in the fight against steroids, Jack
waved him off. "I was just doing my part, while you do your part," he