September 8, 2014
22 arrested in federal bust of Austin-area steroid rings
By Claire Osborn American-Statesman Staff
Federal officials arrested 22 people Thursday who were allegedly involved in two Austin-area steroid trafficking organizations. The ringleaders live in Leander and Round Rock, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice and court documents. Timothy John Bruner, a 54-year-old Leander resident, and Ryan Robert Rowland, 23, of Round Rock, led two operations that conspired to distribute more than 1,000 doses of steroids in tablet form and more than 200 vials of steroids in liquid form, according to a federal arrest warrant. Six of the 22 people arrested, including Bruner and Rowland, face a federal charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. According to a U.S. Department of Justice press release, the four other men facing the federal charge are all from Austin: Ronald Marion Butsch, 42; Dan Lee, 47; Timothy John Moore, 49; and Don Glen Zachary, 58. They face up to 20 years in prison and a maximum $250,000 fine. The other 16 face state charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute a controlled substance. Investigators bought steroids several times from Bruner and Rowland during an 8-month-long undercover investigation called “Operation Blue Juice,” officials said. Authorities said they have seized “significant amounts” of steroids, $300,000 in cash and other assets in connection with the investigation. The steroids that were distributed are used to help enhance muscle growth, said Greg Thrash, the resident agent in charge of the federal Drug Enforcement Agency office in Austin. “The steroid culture is extremely pervasive in Austin,” he said. Sales of illegal steroids for bodybuilding are also a problem in many other parts of the country, he said. The DEA, the Cedar Park Police Department and the Texas Department of Public Safety started the investigation in February into two steroid trafficking organizations operated out of Leander and Austin by Rowland and Bruner, according to an arrest warrant for Bruner. It is not clear from the warrant whether the two trafficking organizations were connected. Officials obtained information that Bruner and Rowland were distributing illegal steroids to numerous users and other sellers in Austin and several locations throughout the United States, the warrant said. Investigators saw Bruner selling steroids to Moore on May 10 outside a Gold’s Gym in Austin, the warrant said. They also saw Rowland delivering or receiving illegal steroids on July 10 at a Chick-fil-A parking lot in Austin; on July 17 at the parking lot of Barton Creek Square mall; and on July 30 at the parking lot of The Main Event in Austin, the warrant said. During the investigation officials tapped the cellphones of Bruner and Rowland and intercepted their text messages, the warrant said. Illegal steroids can be dangerous because sellers often don’t get the products from labs but make them clandestinely in their garages, so buyers don’t know exactly what they are taking, said Thrash. They can also trickle down to schools and pose a threat to students, Thrash said.