Bodybuilders, Personal Trainers and Gym Owner Arrested in Texas Steroid Bust by Millard Baker
Operation Farmacia de Juicy Phruit is the code name for the major steroid bust in Houston led by the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Department involving the arrest of 73 defendants. The “largest narcotics operation in the history of Fort Bend County” primarily involved the arrest of personal trainers, their clients, bodybuilders, a professional bodybuilder and a gym owner in the Houston area. Many of the arrests only involved steroid possession. The steroid network was characterized by Sheriff Milton Wright as a “loose knit” network of individuals involved in fitness/bodybuilding who distributed steroids through “word of mouth”. The total amount of steroids sold over a period of about six years was estimated to have been $643,924 (”Authorities round up drug suspects,” May 27).
“It’s one of these things where they’ve got their friends on speed-dial. They need a certain product, they give them a call and so forth,” Wright said. “They just know each other. A lot of times they know each other by nicknames. They are well-connected to each other in that respect.”
Fort Bend County Sheriff Wright told the Houston Chronicle that the Texas steroid investigation revolved around personal trainers and gyms (”Fort Bend holds suspects in alleged steroid ring,” May 28).
“The majority of this thing is built around body trainers at fitness centers,” said Wright. “Their livelihood is getting customers they can develop physically — legally or illegally. It doesn’t matter in their eyes, as long as they get the job done.”
The steroid operation originated with Brock Falkenhagen, owner of Fitness Associates and Smoothie Factory in Sugar Land, when his activities came to the attention of law enforcement in late 2006 for importing and distributing GeneScience Jintropin brand human growth hormone (HGH). Falkenhagen also allegedly manufactured and distributed anabolic steroids from some time in 2001 through September 7, 2007. Falkenhagen was well-connected in the Sugar Land / Stafford / Missouri City / Houston area fitness community and was friendly with several personal trainers and bodybuilding promoters. Some of Falkenhagen’s friends are rumored to have been arrested today. Charles Brock Falkenhagen was listed as a co-defendant on the sealed indictments of all 22 defendants indicted by the federal grand jury in April 2009; the names of Falkenhagen’s co-defendants were redacted in unsealed court documents.
Falkenbaden was not characterized as the mastermind behind the steroid operation. But authorities would not elaborate on how the Falkenbaden investigation led to the arrest and indictment of personal trainers and bodybuilders in the Houston area. Falkenbaden was arrested approximately a week before today’s arrests and released on a $75,000 unsecured bond
The steroid bust was NOT a closely guarded secret in the Houston area. Underground source(s) having been talking about the pending steroid bust involving over 50 people for at least seven months.
Tim Johnson, the acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of Texas, told the press that the Houston area communities are “safer places today” now that individuals using steroids to improve their physical appearance have been arrested. DEA Special Agent Zoran Yankovich told reporters that the dangers of steroid use are not always obvious asserting that steroids lead to “broken families, broken homes and people who are hurt [by steroids] that we never know about.”
Fort Bend Sheriff Wright said that 49 state warrants and 17 federal warrants were served in Texas alone with additional arrests occurring in Georgia, Louisiana, California and Indiana. Additional arrests are expected. Authorities refused to identify any of Brock Falkenhagen’s co-defendants although some of those arrested have been subsequently identified in media coverage of the arrest. Jeremy Clayton Canton, Chase Bank manager, George Rincon, general manager at LA Fitness (Highway 6 / Bissonnet), was caught on camera being arrested. Brad Adrian Ascenzi, a Houston firefighter who won the Medal of Valor; Jeremy Clayton Canton, a manager at Chase Bank; and Larry Woodard, a Copperras Cover firefighter, were also arrested. Jason Gonzales, an NPC bodybuilder; Bryan Barth, an NPC bodybuilder and personal trainer; and Lee Thompson, owner of One-2-One Training Centers, were named on federal indictments (”Largest Narcotics Operation in the History of Fort Bend County” May 27).
In connection with Operation “Famracia de Juicy Phruit” 51 defendants have been indicted by the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office and 22 defendants have been indicted by the United States Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Texas.
Today, agents and officers of the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office, the Fort Bend County HIDTA Enforcement Team, the Drug Enfrocement Administration, Rosenberg Police Department, Houston Police Department (HPD), HPD SWAT, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the United States Marshals Service (USMS) arrested a total of 59 defendants in connection with Operation “Farmacia de Juicy Phruit”. Arrests have also been made in Georgia, Louisiana, California and Indiana.