|Large amount of steroids seized in Delta County busts|
|Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor|
Jan. 20, 2006 - Delta County sheriff's officers earlier this week made what amounts to one of the largest controlled substance busts to date in that county, and what investigators say is thought to be one of the largest steroids seizures on record in Northeast Texas in several years.
"I think this is one of the biggest steroid busts in this area in some time," John Williams, an investigator for Delta County Sheriff's Office said Thursday afternoon. "We believe they were going to distribute them throughout the Northeast Texas area from Dallas east to the state line."
Three men were arrested following two traffic stops on State Highway 24 which netted $529 cash, drug paraphernalia such as syringes and the approximately $18,000 worth of controlled substances.
That included 50 injectable vials of what is believed to be anabolic steroids, several Hydrocodone tablets, 504 Soma stabs, 240 tabs of a generic pain killer, and several other various controlled substances, Delta County Sheriff Mark Bassham stated Friday morning. Authorities are also holding a 2001 Honda Accord and a 1999 Ford pickup pending forfeiture proceedings.
DCSO Sgt. Paul Robertson is credited with making both traffic stops on SH 24 within a two-hour time period.
Robertson stopped a 2001 model Honda Accord occupied by Tommy Garcia, 31, and Mario Alberto Lumbreras Jr., 24, of the Dallas area, around 1:15 p.m. Wednesday for a minor traffic violation. The driver gave sheriff's officers permission to search the car. Inside, they found steroids and other narcotics in the center console and glove box. A small amount of cash was also among the items seized.
Both were charged with possession of more than 200 grams but less than 400 grams of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony offense punishable by two to 20 years in prison and an optional fine up to $10,000. Bond was set at $50,000 each by Justice of the Peace Larry Vandiver. The vehicle was seized pending civil proceedings.
The second stop occurred just before 3 p.m. Wednesday, when Robertson pulled over a Ford pickup, occupied by two men, for a traffic violation. The driver, 45-year-old Richard Brown of Mount Vernon, also granted consent for officers to search his vehicle. Sheriff's officers located numerous boxes containing vials of three different kinds of anabolic steroids in a backpack behind the seat, as well as needles and a small quantity of cash.
After an investigation, the passenger was released with no charges being filed, Williams said. Brown, however, was taken into custody on a first-degree felony charge of having more than 400 grams of the controlled substance. His bond was set a at $75,000 by Vandiver, according to Bassham.
"We don't know if they were going to the same place, but steroids were found during both stops which occurred within a short time on that road," said Williams. "They were animal steroids used by veterinarians. They appear to be from Mexico. How they got them in [the country] we don't know.
"It's not unheard of to find a small amount. They are often used in body building. But to find this much in one day, is a lot more than expected," Williams added.
The Delta County investigator said he spoke with representatives of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency and was told federal authorities are dealing with several steroids cases in the Dallas metro area, specifically Allen and Plano.
During the course of the investigation, sheriff's officers discovered information which indicates at least one of the three men arrested may be connected to one of those Dallas area steroids cases. Sheriff's officers were still following up on those leads, along with the DEA.
The anabolic steroids were packaged in 10 milliliter vials in boxes labeled "animal power," a type designed for use by veterinarians but often smuggled across the Mexican border to be sold and used illegally to speed gain of muscle mass for weightlifting.
Bassham said that while well-known athletes are generally the people that most think of when steroid abuse is discussed, the use of steroids is much more common.
"Steroids have become readily available to those who want to purchase the illegal substance. The cost of one 10 milliliter vial can be as much as $300 or more. The street value of the Soma tabs usually run up to $4 each," the Delta County sheriff said.