Richard Rodriguez, the co-owner of Miami Iron Addicts Gym, was arrested on February 22 for allegedly running an international steroid distribution ring. DEA agents raided the gym and brought Rodriguez out in handcuffs on Wednesday morning. It is unclear if Rodriguez has acquired a defense attorney.
A witness told the press that gym members were reportedly herded against a wall as agents knocked down walls in the gym’s upstairs office, where the illegal distribution business was allegedly run, and seized exercise equipment.
According to the criminal complaint, the DEA received a tip in August 2015 that an online fitness store called Wellness, Fitness & Nutrition Network sold steroid injections and pills. Rodriguez is the CEO and majority owner of the Wellness, Fitness & Nutrition Network. His wife, Nancy Rodriguez, is also named in the complaint as the company’s CFO and bookkeeper.
The couple allegedly headed a nine-member ring that imported materials from China and illegally manufactured steroids in a lab in Phoenix, Arizona. They advertised and sold controlled anabolic steroids like Deca Durabolin on the website and claimed that the products are FDA-approved. The complaint said Rodriguez and his cohorts reportedly made $2.3 million from the business between 2015 and 2016.
Jonathan Gonzalez, Erick Vittitow, Bader Alaskari, and Bernard Duran were reportedly members of the distribution network who have employment positions in Rodriguez’s company. News sources report that Duran, 43, who works as the company’s sales representative, told an informant over the phone that Rodriguez was “paranoid” because his entire business was “illegal.”
20% of the company is allegedly owned by John Ferrell, the owner of Desert Formulations in Arizona. Ferrell purportedly bought raw steroid powder from China and repackaged it in his lab to sell on Rodriguez’s website. Agents reportedly searched the lab’s garbage and found pills that tested positive for steroids. Ferrell’s employees, Edward Jacob Liff, Xzavier Apodaca, and Byron Oliver, were also named in the complaint.
The DEA claims to have evidence that Rodriguez and Ferrell purchased steroid powder worth at least $350,000 from Chinese companies. The money was wired by a company called The Real Nutrition, which agents believe was used by Rodriguez and Ferrell to launder their profits. Agents also reportedly seized three packages of the substance addressed to Rodriguez in 2015.
Prosecutors handling the case say they bought steroids worth $30,000 from the website, and allegedly traced its operation to a logistics center in Miami and a lab in Phoenix.
Steroids are considered federally controlled substances under Florida Statute section 893. Possession of steroids without a valid prescription is a third-degree felony punishable by a maximum of five years in prison. The distribution of steroids, which under Florida law can simply mean giving the drug to another person, is a second degree felony. If convicted, Rodriguez and his group could get up to 15 years in prison.
Members of Miami Iron Addicts Gym were shocked by the events of Wednesday morning. One witness told the press that “the gym’s draw is its trainers and equipment,” which attracted notable bodybuilders and a few minor Miami celebrities.