Click on Steroids Article November 20, 2005|By Paul Doyle Hartford Courant
This article is 7 years old yet still close to the top in many Google searches with keyword steroids.
Click On To Steroids
The So-easy Way To Buy Illegal Drugs Online
November 20, 2005|By Paul Doyle Hartford Courant
The word "steroids" produces more than 5 million responses to a Google search.
The words "buy steroids" bring 762,000 references on the Internet.
The domain names are brazen (legalsteroids.com), boastful (HouseOfMuscle.com), authoritative (Anabolicshop.com) and amusing (littleguy-gotbig.com). But I don't need to venture deep to find a virtual anabolic mall.
The very first site spit out in my Google search is juicinjoe.com, with the tag line "Juice for the average joe." I'm a relative neophyte when it comes to navigating the cyber steroid world, but with the help of a specially provided virtual mentor, one "Trevor Gladstone," it takes me all of 15 minutes to learn how to purchase steroids on the Internet.
Trevor promises to provide a list of scammers and to direct me to a seller. If I provide an e-mail address, I can take his underground tour.
Trevor soon shows me how to register on certain sites and post on certain message boards that will give me credibility when I go to make a buy. By the time I "submerge myself underground," I have found my first seller, a Web site based in Eastern Europe. But, as a "newbie," I still have questions.
Where will the steroids be sent?
How will I pay?
What are the legal risks?
If I'm an inexperienced teenager, the answers are easy to find on -- where else? -- the Internet. For the next few days, I'll read message board postings, I'll find advice and warnings from doctors, lawyers and athletes.
I plunge into the steroid underworld. I loiter on message boards, mostly on steroid.com's Anabolic Review. My first post is vague and innocuous: "Just registered after lurking for a few weeks. Pretty new to this and looking for advice."
Within two minutes a member posts, "Well, you found the right place. ... Welcome." Another says, "Welcome to AR, bro."
Days later, I ask again, a bit more directly for a site to buy steroids. Immediately, I am ambushed by guys whose online profiles include pictures of bodybuilders, presumably them. They are not planted before their keyboards in search of steroids. They have their steroids.
One poster screeches, "Are you serious?"
Another warns that scammers will target me. Another refers me to a link for the Oasis Longevity & Rejuvenation Center in Delray Beach, which bills itself as selling "doctor-prescribed steroids."
The lesson? Don't stumble into this Internet steroid village, the one populated by real live users, in search of a seller. The people who post and chat here are not novices. They are protective of their community and suspicious of outsiders. The first rule: Don't talk about where you got your supply.
For all I learned on my tour, the virtual "Trevor" is still the only one to have given me the name of an online seller. I decide to go back to where I started. Google.
I discover two other sites, from Poland and Spain, to add to the Moldova-based one. I do a little research and find them mentioned in a forum at anabolex.com. They are recommended in an "Overseas Pharmacies Connection" forum.
When I register on the sites, there is no screening for age.
At the Spain-based site, I provide an e-mail address, a mailing address and phone number. I am immediately approved as a site member, which enables me to buy.
At the Poland-based site, I provide an e-mail address and a city of residence. Again, I am immediately approved.
At the Moldova-based site, I provide an e-mail address and answer a few questions about where I found the site and what message boards I frequent. The next day, I am approved.
I set up post office boxes throughout the Hartford area. In Manchester, I show a piece of mail and an ID. In Hartford, I show an ID. In New Haven, an editor at The Courant opens a box with no ID, no questions asked.
We use P.O. boxes to protect ourselves, but we are conscious of having this process mirror a teenager or young adult buying steroids online.
E-mail confirmations for my first two orders arrive immediately. They include instructions for wiring money through Western Union. In e-mails that arrive later the same day, contact names and cities in Spain and Poland are included.
During the third purchase, I am guided through the process of sending money via Western Union. I've never wired money, so this is a revelation. And if I have a tinge of trepidation about sending money for the purchase of an illegal drug, I get a word of advice from my seller:
"If Western Union asks you about purpose of sending money tell them that they are for your relatives [family] or for a friend in need [they don't allow sending money for commercial purposes]."
I receive a contact name and destination -- Ivan Jeju of Kishinev, Moldova. So my friend in need lives in Moldova.
Moldova? Once part of Romania, later part of the Soviet Union, it has been an independent country since 1991. Located between Romania and Ukraine, it is the poorest country in Europe.
Money Around World
Cash in hand, I find three Western Union stations at supermarket customer service desks. I provide names, cities and countries, and the money is off to Spain, Poland and Moldova. There are Western Union stations at almost all convenience stores and supermarkets, and they are often staffed by kids.
I'm never asked where I'm sending the money and I'm never required to invent a story about my sick cousin in Moldova or my penniless friend in Poland. Within two days, the money has been collected from all three accounts.
Less than three weeks after I had placed my order, I see a small, padded white envelope sitting in my oversized P.O. box in Manchester.
In The Courant sports department, it takes 20 minutes to remove the wrap from vials labeled Deca Durabolin, Sustanon and Testosterone Enanthate.
Whatever substances we possess, I'm relieved. One of the orders has been successfully delivered without as much as a sniff from the authorities.
Then I hit a snag.
`Your Venomous Friend'
An e-mail from Spain informs me that the preferred method of shipping does not deliver to a post office box. The e-mail -- ending with "Regards, your venomous friend" -- asks for a personal or business address.
I send the residential address of a Courant editor. Six days later, I receive an e-mail saying the order has been shipped. The following week, a package in a yellow, red and white DHL shipping envelope arrives.
There is also a triplicate commercial invoice on the package. The invoice says the package includes a computer part known as a LINKSYS WAG54G ADSL GATEWAY.
The part, according to the invoice, is being returned from Spain because it is the "wrong model." It has a value of $98.
The contents are supposed to be a manual data switch, a computer peripheral. I'm thinking this is an elaborate facade to hide the contents.
Inside is a plain, brown corrugated box and inside that box is another cardboard box for a manual data switch. The company name on the box is Addison Technology and the data switch seems to be exactly what is listed on the packing order. I find the website for Addison Technology -- it is a real company, based in The Netherlands.
The ruse keeps getting better.
Inside is, well, a data switch. Covered in clear bubble wrap, it is a nondescript computer device. No vials of steroids, no pills.
First, I'm deflated, then angry, then disappointed, and ultimately, confused.
If this is a scam, why not send a brick? Or better yet, send nothing.
I am about to e-mail and ask about my order. Instead I find an e-mail waiting for me.
I sent your order last Friday by DHL ... it seems that you have received it without problems ... [according to DHL website]. Take care when you "open" the "DATA SWITCH" and remove the stuff carefully, help you with a cutter. ... Regards, your venomous friend, Viper.
I remove four screws and pull off the cover revealing a bundle of steroids hidden amid wires. The steroids are tightly packed in a thicker plastic wrap and securely glued to the inside of the data switch.
I am stunned by the lengths this dealer went through to pass steroids through customs.
So now I have two steroid orders in hand. One arrived in a plain white envelope, the other in an elaborate disguise.
The third? I am told in an e-mail from Michaela at the Moldova site that my order has been shipped but might have been seized by customs. If I get a letter from U.S. Customs, I should simply send a copy of it to her company, Michaela writes, and they'll refill the order. No charge.
Weeks pass and my P.O. box is empty. No steroids from Moldova, no seizure letter from Customs.
Two months pass. The third shipment finally arrives, but only after I provide Michaela a residential address, of another sports editor. The contents are as ordered, sent in a white, padded envelope, postmarked Bucharest.
My journey to the underworld is complete.
The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Co. newspaper.
The needle tears a hole, The old familiar sting...Trent Reznor
My mom thought I'd just fade away and go write the Great American Seedy Disgusting Perverse Novel. Instead he's writing songs like "You must keep pepper in your pussy to act this mean"...Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes