Record # of steroid seizures at border

Lisa Davies, Eamonn Duff, May 28, 2012

STEROIDS are fast becoming the drug of choice for the state’s bikies, and police are regularly seizing large quantities of the illicit imports without even trying.

The huge boom in illegal imports of anabolic steroids and growth hormones is fuelling a bodybuilding subculture with roots firmly in outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Recent figures show record levels of performance- and image-enhancing drugs are being seized at borders.

In 2010-11, the seizure of steroids and hormones was up 106 per cent, with 5561 detections, up 2695 from the year before.

The NSW drugs squad commander, Detective Superintendent Nick Bingham, said police are increasingly stumbling across significant amounts of steroids, especially among bikies.

”We generally don’t target steroid offences. They seem to be a byproduct of other targeting issues – for example, if we do a raid on a [gang] member for whatever purpose, whether for firearms or amphetamines, quite often we find steroids as well,” Superintendent Bingham told the Herald.

”We’re not finding as many steroids as we are all the other illicit drugs, but it’s certainly getting to a level where it’s starting to concern us a bit, especially since it seems a lot of it is to do with [motorcycle gang] members.”

He said most of it was for personal use but also for distribution between club members.

A Sun-Herald investigation found that rather than risk prosecution in Australia, everyday gym users are travelling to Asia and ”stacking” a dangerous cocktail of steroids that include powerful veterinary drugs and fertility medicine.

A large proportion of the seizures of hormones and steroids being detected by customs were coming from Thailand.

Superintendent Bingham said much of the body-enhancing drugs police are seizing ”is indicative of personal use”.

Much of the police intelligence about the use of steroids was that it was being supplied through gyms, some of which also have links to bikie gangs.

”It’s mainly for body size enhancement, [and] it’s an occupational thing as well for people who are in the security industry, like bouncers,” Superintendent Bingham said.

”Also, young guys who want to emulate their sporting heroes … and also just people in the criminal area that want to make themselves look big and tough.”

Australia’s border controls were among the strictest in the world and police rejected suggestions they should be relaxed.

”I think the way we’ve got it at the moment does make sense,” Superintendent Bingham said.

”Steroids, unless they’re prescribed and used for proper medicinal purposes, can be quite dangerous; they do terrible things to your body.”

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