Steroid sales spreading across the city
By Janet Fife-Yeomans
The Daily Telegraph
August 31, 2009 12:01am
ILLEGAL steroid imports are being seized in record numbers as organised crime gangs move into an illicit market worth millions of dollars a year.
Demand for the dangerous drugs is soaring in Sydney with Customs investigation chief Richard Janeczko pointing to the city's celebrity-driven image culture as one factor driving demand.
Such is the demand across Sydney for steroids to boost physical appearance that experts have even changed their generic name from performance-enhancing drugs to performance and image-enhancing drugs, The Daily Telegraph reports.
Sydney has become the epicentre of steroid demand with more drugs than ever now being seized at the city's international airport and discovered in mail coming into the country.
And apart from body image, Mr Janeczko said steroids were also increasingly popular with security guards wanting to beef up without having to do all the hard work.
"We are getting a lot more organised smuggling of performance and image-enhancing drugs," he said.
"Sydney is the main area, there is very much an image culture. There is a huge increase in the use of these drugs by people who use them because they want to look younger.
"We used to call them performance-enhancing drugs but a lot of them don't enhance performance, they are all about improving image."
Mr Janeczko said steroid "mules" were starting to use the more sophisticated methods previously linked to the illegal importation of drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Just last week, a 36-year-old woman who arrived at Sydney Airport from Lebanon was allegedly discovered with 943 vials believed to contain testosterone and enanthate testosterone hidden in a child's doll, a satellite tuner and throughout her luggage.
Other smugglers have strapped the drugs to their bodies or used false bottom suitcases. Most of the illegal steroids are made in China but brought into Australia increasingly through Lebanon, where they are easy to obtain.
Mr Janeczko blames celebrities such as Sylvester Stallone, who was famously busted at Sydney Airport in 2007 with 48 vials of the human growth hormone Jintropin.
"People like Sylvester Stallone are on the record saying that he is an old man jumping around trying to look young," Mr Janeczko said.
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