3 arrested so far in massive Magnolia - El Dorado steroid bust

[image] Joshua Lynn Hines (courtesy: Columbia County Jail)

So far, three people have been arrested in a massive steroid bust in South Arkansas.

The MagnoliaReporter.com is reporting that new details are emerging following the arrests of two South Arkansas men for the illegal manufacture and distribution of anabolic steroids and human growth hormones (HGH).

In Magnolia, lawmen displayed for the news media packages of anabolic steroids and injectable or oral forms of drugs made from them – drugs that are illegal but nonetheless popular among athletes, body builders and others. There were hundreds of drug vials, pill bottles, blister packs, syringes and needles and other drug paraphernalia. They were among 8,000 units of testosterone in various forms seized in the investigation.

Also seized were written and computer records of possible drug transactions with customers; 35 semi-automatic rifles and handguns with boxes of ammunition, loaded magazines, scopes, and in a few cases, silencers; $45,000 cash; and four vehicles.

David Butler, deputy prosecuting attorney for Columbia County, said the bust may be the largest seizure of illegal steroids and HGH in Arkansas history.

Arrested on Friday were Joshua Lynn Hines, 37, of Magnolia and Robert Andrew "Drew" Maza, 31, El Dorado.

Both men are charged with possession of a Schedule III controlled substance with purpose to deliver, delivery of a Schedule III controlled substance, manufacture of a Schedule III controlled substance, controlled substance offenses relating to transaction records and maintaining a drug premises, possession of drug paraphernalia, simultaneous possession of drugs and firearms, commission of offenses in a drug-free zone, and endangering the welfare of a minor.

Maza was released on $50,000 bond. Hines was released on $100,000 bond.

Potential penalties on the charges range from three years to life in prison.

"Probable cause" affidavits filed by investigators laid out the case, which began about three months ago when Union County authorities got a tip that Maza and another man – later identified as Hines – were buying large amounts of steroids and selling them to local customers.

VIEW PROBABLE CAUSE AFFIDAVITS HERE

Butler said that the investigation really took off last week, after federal Homeland Security agents in San Francisco examined a suspicious piece of mail from China addressed to Hines. The package was found to contain 411 grams – approximately 14.5 ounces – of anabolic steroids. Lawmen decided to set up a "controlled deliver," which is to say that the package remained under the control or surveillance of law enforcement officers from that point.

Last Thursday, an undercover agent posing as a postal worker delivered the package to Hines' business, Extreme Fitness, 111 N. Dudney in Magnolia. Using an undercover officer and other means of surveillance, a watch was maintained on the package.

Hines took physical possession of the package on Friday and officers immediately executed a search warrant on the gym. According to the affidavit, Lt. Josh Newton and Hines went into Hines' office, where they began talking about the search warrant. "I observed the package referenced above on the desk and silver packaging from inside the package in the trash can. Inside the package was 411 grams of anabolic steroids," Newton said in the affidavit.

Newton said Hines gave a statement indicating that he and Maza were the owners of the package.

"Hines stated that he and the other individual in El Dorado would pool their money together on shipments of steroids and then distribute to numerous individuals," the affidavit said.

Hines told lawmen that at the beginning of 2013, he decided that it would be easier to order the steroids by himself.

"He stated that he found an individual in China and began ordering form him. Hines stated that he would wire money via Western Union at Brookshire's and have packages sent to his residence," to his gym, or to the home of a third individual. The third individual, who has not been charged, would know to deliver packages to him if she received an overseas package with her name misspelled, the affidavit said.

"He stated that he would mix the steroids up at his residence mostly, but sometimes did it in his Tahoe. He stated that he had steroids at his house and in the gym," the affidavit said.

In the probable cause affidavit filed against Maza, investigators said Hines told them that he and Maza took turns ordering the steroids. They used a chemical mixture to convert the steroid powder into injectable liquids they put into the vials and sealed with the label markings of LA Labs.

Butler said Maza used his employer's copying machine to produce authentic-looking labels for the small vials of chemicals.

"In the past two weeks, investigators have made controlled purchases of anabolic steroids in Union County using a confidential informant that have the label ‘LA Labs' on the outside of the vial," the affidavit said.

According to LA Labs' website, it is a global company that distributes health and beauty products through a network of distributors and retailers. However, the website provides little information about the company itself, which appears to be based overseas.

The affidavit said that Friday, investigators conducted a controlled delivery of the anabolic steroids to Maza. Once he accepted the package, he was taken into custody.

"Maza confirmed what investigators had previously learned from Hines. Maza admitted to ordering anabolic steroids in powder form. Maza stated that he used Western Union as his method of payment when ordering the steroids. Maza went on to say that he would complete a process which turns the powder into liquid. Maza states that he then sells the finished product to multiple customers in the El Dorado area," the affidavit said.

More arrests are possible.

Butler said that possession of non-prescribed anabolic steroids is, at a minimum, a misdemeanor crime. Investigators and prosecutors will examine sales records, and Butler expects to interview individuals who may have purchased the steroids and human growth hormones.

KTBS 3 News learned that on Tuesday, police made yet another arrest related to the case. Extreme Image employee, Candy Drake, was arrested and charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance with Intent to Distribute. She was booked into the Columbia County Jail with a bond of $25,000.


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