Four charged in conspiracy to import and distribute steroids, launder proceeds

 

Date: February 19, 2020

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

PROVIDENCE – Four individuals have been arrested, four locations searched, and several motor vehicles and bank accounts seized today during a series of early morning law enforcement actions in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, as part of an on-going multi-agency investigation into the illegal importation, preparation, rebranding, and distribution of steroids throughout the United States, and the laundering of proceeds from the sale of the illegal drugs.

It is alleged in court documents that the leader of the conspiracy, David M. Esser of North Attleboro arranged for the importation of large quantities of raw steroids from international suppliers, primarily based in Hong Kong. A significant number of orders placed by Esser for raw steroids were for multiple kilograms of product.

According to court documents, it is alleged that Esser arranged to have the raw steroids shipped directly to locations within the United States where, at his direction, individuals "cooked" the raw steroid product into liquid form, packaged the liquid in plastic vials, and shipped the finished products to a stash house he operated in North Attleboro. Esser provided the middle-men with the supplies required for the preparation and packaging of the steroids. Shipments to the middle-men also included cash payments to them for performing these tasks.

It is alleged that after the packaged steroids arrived at Esser's stash house, Esser, and others working at his direction, prepared customers' orders for steroids. Members of the conspiracy shipped the packages to customers throughout the United States, utilizing several U.S. Post Offices, including Providence's main post office from which a significant number of packages were mailed.

It is alleged that in an effort to disguise the proceeds from the illegal sales of steroids, members of the conspiracy often times moved the proceeds from bank account to bank account, and used some of the proceeds to purchase, among other things, raw steroid products, steroid trafficking supplies, vehicles, and properties.

Proceeds from some sales of steroids were paid to the members of the conspiracy in cash. Other payments were made by cryptocurrency.

David M. Esser, James McLaughlin, and Alison Esser, aka Alison Shephard, of North Attleboro, and Mason A. Nieves of Providence were arrested on federal criminal complaints charging them with intent to distribute Schedule III and IV Controlled Substances; conspiracy to distribute, possess with intent to distribute and conspiracy to import Schedule III and IV Controlled Substances; manufacturing and distributing Schedule III and IV Controlled Substances; importation of Controlled Substances into the United States; trafficking in counterfeit goods and services; smuggling goods into the United States; as well as wire fraud and money laundering.

The defendants were arraigned in U.S. District Court and released on unsecured bond.

A criminal complaint is merely an accusation. A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Gerard B. Sullivan.

This investigation was conducted by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the United States Postal Service, United States Postal Inspection Service, Alamance County North Carolina Narcotics Enforcement Team, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and HSI Special Agents in the Houston and Winston-Salem Field Offices.