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James Charles Rivera, 32, of New York, was handed down a 96-year prison sentence for his role in a large-scale international drug trafficking operation. According to court documents, Rivera, alongside his co-conspirators, manufactured and distributed various anabolic steroids, including Anadrol, Testosterone, Mesterolone, Halotestin, among others. They operated under the alias “JuicePal” and extended their services worldwide.
Rivera utilized the dark web to facilitate his transactions, supplemented by encrypted communication platforms. Payments were made to him in both cryptocurrency and traditional cash.
Although Rivera was based in the UK, he orchestrated a system where he procured steroid powders and other necessary materials from China, which were subsequently sent to his associates in the US. Upon receiving orders, Rivera communicated the details to his US-based co-conspirators who manufactured the steroids and fulfilled the orders. For those customers opting for cash payments, the money was mailed to Rivera’s partners in the US, who retained their share before remitting the balance to Rivera.
The operation’s culmination came on December 10, 2021, when Rivera was apprehended by HSI agents at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Pleading guilty in February 2023 to charges including conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and conspiracy to launder monetary instruments, Rivera conceded that between 2018 and 2021, he and his accomplices handled thousands of orders, accumulating at least 450.974 bitcoins.
Chad Plantz, the Special Agent in Charge for HSI San Diego, highlighted the extent and complexity of the operation. He remarked:
“This lengthy sentence is the result of an investigation into a complex global illicit counterfeit steroid production and distribution network that spanned several years, which concluded with the dismantlement of both the known US and British networks of operation. The egregious criminal conspiracy attempted to utilize encrypted communications, cryptocurrencies, and an elaborate network of co-conspirators to obfuscate operational activity in the U.S. and abroad. I thank the several federal partners that came together to support HSI, most notably U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Food and Drug Administration to dismantle these operations.”
In addition to his 96-year sentence, Rivera conceded to the forfeiture of all the cryptocurrencies seized during his arrest.