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GETTING RIPPED

Medford Mail Tribune | Feb. 11, 2013 3:36 a.m. | Updated: Feb. 11, 2013 11:36 a.m.

Contributed By:

chris conrad

By chris conrad

Mail Tribune

A Medford man faces felony counts for selling 18,000 doses of illegal steroids and hundreds of doses of drugs that help with male sexual dysfunction. Medford police say they believe it’s the largest steroid case in the department’s history and think the drugs likely would have been sold to bodybuilders looking to “get ripped.”

Medford Area Drug and Gang Enforcement, or MADGE, investigators are still investigating how Rafael Rene Fernandez, 39, received such large amounts of liquid anabolic steroid, Viagra and Cialis.

These drugs require a prescription to obtain, MADGE Lt. Brett Johnson said.

“We believe (Fernandez) was getting these drugs through the mail,” Johnson said.

On Wednesday, MADGE investigators served a search warrant at Fernandez’s house on Cedar Links Drive. They found 18,000 doses of liquid anabolic steroid, 250 doses of Viagra, and 1.8 pounds of a white powder believed to be Viagra and Cialis, Johnson said.

Investigators believe Fernandez was essentially operating an illicit pharmacy out of his home, Johnson said.

“He was making the capsules himself and blending the steroids with sterile water to make it into a larger quantity product,” Johnson said.

The steroids and capsules were placed in homemade packaging labeled “Superior Labs,” a company name that Fernandez concocted, perhaps to give his products an image of legitimacy.

MADGE found sales records and $15,707 in cash, which is believed to be the proceeds of drug sales, Johnson said.

“It looked to be quite a profitable business for him based on the proceeds we found at the house,” Johnson said. “However, he was not a doctor or a pharmacist.”

MADGE is investigating whether Fernandez had any local buyers. It is believed he was selling to people from out of the area, based on the amount of drugs found inside the home.

“We think he was packaging it and selling it to other dealers across the country,” Johnson said.

This is most likely the largest steroid bust in Medford police history, Johnson said.

“We’ve never had an anabolic steroid case this large,” he said. “We’ve caught people with user quantities, but never dealer quantity like this.”

Johnson said the availably of the drugs through the mail is troubling.

“You can certainly find this stuff and order it from other countries,” Johnson said.

MADGE is working to find out the estimated street value of each steroid dose. The agency is taking a crash course on steroid economics, Johnson said.

“I can tell you how much meth and heroin go for on the street, but we have no idea about steroids,” Johnson said. “But we are looking forward to finding out something new.”

Johnson speculates the steroids were mostly sold to body builders elsewhere in the country.

“They were probably headed to people in gyms who want to get ripped and do it the wrong way,” Johnson said.

In addition to the steroids and Viagra, other substances were found that have yet to be identified. One substance could be human growth hormone, which has made headlines recently as the performance-enhancing drug of choice among professional athletes.

Personal trainer Brandon Overstreet, who lives in Talent and works throughout the valley, said some people feel the need to take shortcuts like steroids to get in shape.

“It’s sad, really,” Overstreet said. “It’s cheating, not to mention all the damage it can do to your body.”

Overstreet said there are a few people in most gyms who use performance-enhancing drugs.

“It’s everywhere,” he said. “You have guys who do it and you have guys who sell it.”

Overstreet said he knew people in college who used steroids. The results were disturbing, he said.

“They became quick-tempered … it turned them into monsters,” he said.

Fernandez was lodged in the Jackson County Jail on charges of delivery, manufacture and possession of steroids, delivery, manufacture and possession of Viagra and delivery and manufacture of Cialis.

Delivery and manufacture of steroids is a felony under Oregon law. The rest of the charges were misdemeanors, Johnson said.

Fernandez was lodged in jail on $18,000 bail.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or email cconrad@mailtribune.com.

This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.

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