Feds: Portland drug ring was importing steroids from China
PORTLAND, Ore. - Federal prosecutors say a Portland car dealership served as a front for a drug operation that imported, manufactured and sold steroids and other drugs.
Drug Enforcement Agency and other federal agents on Thursday morning raided several locations associated with the operation as prosecutors unsealed an indictment against sixteen people they say conspired to distribute anabolic steroids, marijuana, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
According to the indictment, the drug ring was led by two men - Shane Jack and Landon Britt. Prosecutors said Jack and Britt purchased steroids from China over the course of seven years.
As part of their operation, the pair created SJ Motors, Inc. to "create a front for their drug-trafficking and money laundering activity," court documents said.
Investigators said Britt and Jack worked with 14 other people to import steroids, grow marijuana and sell those drugs through the mail to customers in several states the country.
According to the indictment, Britt and two other men - Ronald Stoltenberg and Brandon Lyons - ordered anabolic steroids from a series of drug companies in China. They paid for the drugs through Western Union and other wire transfers, investigators said.
All told, investigators said Britt and the others spent nearly $500,000 on the Chinese drugs.
Some of the people named in the indictment are well-known in the bodybuilding community.
One, Brad Hollibaugh, is a champion bodybuilder from the Spokane area who has appeared in several small movies. His website sells bodybuilding DVDs and other merchandise.
In court, prosecutors described their work as a "sophisticated network of financial schemes."
Once the drugs were in the U.S., prosecutors said Jack and Britt would use false names and addresses to ship those drugs to customers in a number of states.
Both men appeared in court on Thursday afternoon and entered "not guilty" pleas.
There were both released and ordered to return for trial in January. Neither has a violent criminal history.
Prosecutors had requested that Britt continue to be held in jail because of "significant" evidence found at his Southeast Portland house, including 5,000 vials of steroids ready for sale and four pounds of marijuana.
It's not clear how investigators were first tipped off to the operation, although the indictment does say customs agents intercepted drug shipments on several occasions during the past year.
On Jan. 20, customs agents found a package intended for Stoltenberg that contained 7,000 steroid tablets.
In September, customs agents intercepted two packages intended for members of the drug ring, investigators said. Both packages from a Chinese chemical company contained two kilograms of anabolic steroids.
Agents again in October seized yet another shipment and sent a seizure notice to the recipient, Rebecca Erickson, according to the indictment.
"Erickson reported to Britt getting a seizure notice and Britt instructed her to shred it," the indictment said.
Prosecutors said Britt and Jack also worked with others to operate marijuana operations in Southern Oregon and at Britt's house.
Jack and Britt additionally face charges of "carrying or using a firearm during the commission of a drug trafficking crime" and "international money laundering conspiracy."