U.S. seeks extradition in 'Steroid King' smuggling operation

Sunday, March 24, 2013 at 10:05pm

Brian Wainstein, known internationally as the “Steroid King,” has allegedly orchestrated a massive, continent-spanning, multimillion-dollar illegal drug ring.

And he may be coming to Nashville — if U.S. law enforcement agencies have their way.

Wainstein is being charged in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee with manufacturing, distributing and smuggling anabolic steroids and human growth hormone.

Wainstein’s drug operation, which has also led to indictments in New Jersey and Mississippi, netted approximately $8.6 million in profits, according to court filings. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is asking Wainstein to forfeit those proceeds.

The indictment pertaining to Wainstein and an alleged co-conspirator, Siobhan Hatton, was sealed for more than two years between 2010 and 2012 while they were located overseas. Authorities originally believed that Wainstein was living in Israel, which doesn’t have an extradition agreement with the U.S.

But Wainstein was arrested in South Africa in January, according to The Sunday Times, a newspaper in Cape Town, South Africa. A Cape Town judge granted Wainstein bail, the newspaper reported.

Now, the U.S. is trying to get Wainstein on American soil to answer his charges.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Hannafan said the government has to submit an extradition request, including affidavits that describe the charges and details of the case. The proceedings will be held in South Africa. But it could be a while before Wainstein is forced stateside.

“My understanding is that it can take as long as several years. It just depends upon the case and the proceedings there,” Hannafan told The City Paper.

Similar proceedings will also take place for Wainstein’s co-conspirator, Hatton, who was arrested in England, according to court documents.  

Wainstein’s attorney, Brett Carnegie, said he has “instructions to vigorously oppose the extradition application brought by the United States.” Wainstein couldn’t be reached for comment.

The U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Agency announced the results of an international investigation into steroid distribution in 2007 called “Operation Raw Deal.” Authorities seized more than 11.4 million steroid dosages units in the investigation from 2005 to 2007.

Steroids and human growth hormones can increase muscle mass, but have dangerous health side effects, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The director of the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations referred to overseas anabolic steroid producers in a press release as “profiteers who endanger the public by formulating and selling unapproved illegal drugs, even when those who would be endangered are willing participants.”

The press release warned of drugs that were cooked in unsanitary conditions with unregulated ingredients and formulas.

Wainstein’s alleged scheme to sell the illegal muscle-building drugs has spanned several continents.

The Irish Independent reported in 2007 that Wainstein was sentenced to two years in prison after he was found guilty on nine counts of possessing and distributing “illicit drugs.”

A news story from the Cyprus Mail, an English-language newspaper on the small island nation, reported in 2010 that an unnamed Israeli man was arrested there in connection to a massive steroid bust spanning nine countries. That report led many online forums — which are at the epicenter of illegal steroid rings — to speculate about Wainstein’s involvement.

The court documents regarding Wainstein’s indictment in Middle Tennessee provide only sparse details of the alleged steroid ring. Hannafan told The City Paper the charges stemmed from an investigation by the FDA’s New Orleans office.

“There were some people who were part of the conspiracy who were operating out of Middle Tennessee and ... the investigation just led to here,” Hannafan said.

Details about Wainstein’s alleged U.S. operation can be found in New Jersey federal court where two of his alleged co-conspirators were indicted in 2009.

According to court documents, Wainstein ran a steroid manufacturing operation called Axio Labs, producing performance-enhancing drugs. He allegedly shipped the drugs from Moldova, an Eastern European country, to different addresses in the United States in 2007.

Once received by co-conspirators, the U.S. residents repackaged the drugs and shipped them to “end customers.”

Darin Dudash and Anne Dudash, bodybuilders from New Jersey, were indicted in 2009 for aiding Wainstein’s alleged scam. The Dudashes received roughly $156,000 in wire transfers from the Middle East for their part in the conspiracy, the indictment alleges.

While Wainstein and Hatton were first indicted in Middle Tennessee in 2010, four additional people in the conspiracy were charged last week.

Joshua Slizoski, Dwayne Bellini and Kenneth Ward were indicted on counts of conspiracy, distribution and smuggling of steroids and human growth hormones. Jeanin Diesterhoft was indicted on one count of distribution and possession of human growth hormone.

The addresses of those individuals were indicated as “unknown” on court documents, but the offenses allegedly took place in Rutherford County. They could face decades in prison, as the maximum sentence for conspiracy to possess and distribute steroids is 10 years.

Wainstein’s charges, which stem from Davidson County, carry a maximum sentence of 75 years and a maximum fine of $1.75 million, in addition to the forfeiture of $8.6 million in drug proceeds — if the U.S. can successfully extradite.