Spain Cracks Down on Anabolic and Sexual Enhancer Trafficking

Published: 16 August 2023

Spain Drug ArrestsBuyers were recruited by the organization through ads on social media profiles and messaging channels. (Photo: Ministerio del Interior, License)

By Erika Di Benedetto

Spanish authorities announced that they successfully dismantled a criminal organization engaged in the illicit trafficking of anabolic substances and sexual enhancers through online platforms, as well as the gang's chain of sex shops in the northern Spanish cities of Tarragona, El Vendrell, and Reus.

Police arrested 11 suspects and carried out 11 search warrants, resulting in the seizure of approximately 65,000 pills, including anabolic steroids and sexual invigorators.

In addition, authorities confiscated 100 bottles of poppers—inhaling drugs also used as sexual enhancers—80,500 euro (US$ 88,231) in cash, and uncovered 25 kilograms of packaged pills distributed throughout Spain.

The criminal network relied on advertisements posted on various social media profiles and instant messaging channels to attract potential buyers.

Their illegal activities came to light as a result of an investigation initiated in June 2022 by the Technological Investigation Brigade of the National Police's Central Cybercrime Unit.

A probe into multiple online advertisements on various internet portals, social networks, and instant messaging platforms, offering medicines that had been banned by the European Union, led to the identification of a criminal group operating primarily in the provinces of Tarragona and Seville, as well as in the municipalities of Malaga and Valencia.

The organization had a specific method of operation when carrying out their unlawful activities.

They obtained erectile dysfunction medications, anabolic agents, and substances like poppers from countries such as The Netherlands, China, and India. These products were then sold through virtual pharmacies, with delivery services arranged through couriers. Additionally, the criminal network operated several sex shops where they openly marketed and sold the illegal substances.

Furthermore, authorities seized various computer equipment used for drug sales, three electric weapons, a detonating pistol, and 50 blank cartridges.

Before drugs can be sold to the public, they are required to undergo rigorous clinical trials. These trials serve to assess the effectiveness of the drugs, ensure their quality, and identify any potential side effects that may harm patients.

However, counterfeit products disregard these regulations and fail to meet the necessary requirements.

According to a report published by The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, “counterfeit medicines have become a highly profitable criminal industry run by transnational criminal organizations.”

They can lead to a wide range of consequences that can vary from ineffective treatment outcomes to serious health complications, and in some cases, even death.