Six more plead guilty in Federal steroid case

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The case is code named Cajun Rage-- alluding to the rage steroid users sometimes exhibit. And today six more young men ranging in age from twenty to twenty seven went before Federal Judge Patricia Minaldi this morning to admit they participated in illegal distribution of anabolic steroids in this area.

They pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess and distribute anabolic steroids. They are Bryce Thomas Meaux, Terry Duane Kuykendall, Tyler Jordan Kuykendall, Ronald Lee Bert Fontenot, Troy Newton Broussard and Shane Patrick Hinton who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribute anabolic steroids Tuesday morning.

Their guilty plea means they admit to being involved in what U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley says was a profitable, yet illegal business of selling anabolic steroids. "It was very profitable. Seized was $93,000 from the defendants but the proceeds hundreds of thousands of dollars."

Various members of the conspiracy imported steroids in raw powder form and converted it to an injectable form. Then it was bottled and sold to people in Louisiana and Texas, sometimes from a local health food store called Planet Nutrition. "Part of what they were doing there was actually distributing the vials of steroids," said Finley.

While one defense attorney has suggested the steroids caused no harm to anyone, Finley disagrees. "The long term and short term effects of steroids is documented from heart attacks to liver disease. Also, what's really important in this case is these drugs were imported from foreign countries, from China and Germany. What was in them isn't known, the harm that they could cause."

One of the issues that came up during the guilty pleas and will no doubt come up during sentencing is the government's characterization of different defendants as high, mid or low level distributors. Finley says it's important for the government to determine what role each defendant played. It's important to decipher who did what, who was a major player, who was a leader in this. The government calls Meaux a leader and organizer; Broussard high level; Terry Kuykendall and Hinton mid level and Tyler Kuykendall low level. Sentencing is on October 14th.

On Monday, five men plead guilty to similar charges on Monday morning. Jordan Blake Berza and Christopher Gass pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute the steroids and to money laundering. Blake Meche, Canien Lee Matte and Shayne Keith Weekly pleaded guilty to the conspiracy count.

Copyright 2011 KPLC. All rights reserved.

The following is a news release from the United States Attorney's Office:

Lake Charles, La.: United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced today, the guilty pleas of the remaining defendants who were involved in a large scale conspiracy to possess and distribute anabolic steroids in the Western, Middle and Eastern Districts of Texas and Louisiana.

Bryce Thomas Meaux, 24, Shane Patrick Hinton, 23, Tyler Jordan Kuykendall, 20, all of Lake Charles, La.; Terry Duane Kuykendall, 24, of Baton Rouge, La.; Troy Newton Broussard, 27, of Lafayette, La.; and Ronald Lee Bert Fontenot, 23, of Eunice, La.; pleaded guilty today before U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi in Lake Charles, La. Guilty pleas were accepted yesterday by Judge Minaldi from Jordan Blake Berza, 26, Christopher Keith Gass, 25, both of Lake Charles, La.; Blake Meche, 25, of Rayne, La.; Cainen Lee Matte, 24, of Baton Rouge, La.; and Shane Keith Weekly, 24 of Lake Arthur, La. Defendant, Daniel Kent Bosely previously pleaded guilty before Judge Minaldi on June 9, 2011. All defendants pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and the distribution of anabolic steroids. Two defendants, Berza and Gass, also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering.

According to court documents, these defendants were involved in a drug trafficking organization responsible for receiving several hundred ten milliliter (10 ml) vials of anabolic steroids, numerous packages of anabolic steroid cream, and approximately 35 kilograms of raw steroid powder which was shipped from China and Germany.

Once the internationally shipped packages of anabolic steroid powder were received by members of the organization, the powder was then converted into an injectable form, bottled, labeled for distribution, and sold. This drug trafficking organization sold anabolic steroids to individuals located in the Western, Middle and Eastern Districts of Louisiana and Texas. In total, approximately 7,000 ten milliliter (10 ml) vials of anabolic steroids were manufactured, possessed, and distributed by this drug trafficking organization. More than 600 ten milliliter (10 ml) vials of anabolic steroids were seized from members of the organization through undercover purchases, traffic stops and search warrants. Agents also seized hundreds of empty vials, caps, syringes, three clandestine laboratories, and approximately one kilogram of raw steroid powder. Approximately $93,000.00 was seized from members of the organization, the majority of which came from bank seizure warrants on accounts belonging to Jordan Berza and Christopher Gass, to include $13,000.00 in cash seized from the residence of Berza. Berza, who co-owned Planet Nutrition in Lake Charles with co-defendant Christopher Gass, was utilizing the business as a distribution point for his anabolic steroids. Berza also delivered and mailed steroids to many of his distributors. All monies seized by law enforcement from Berza's residence and financial accounts registered to Berza and Gass, represent drug proceeds from the sale of anabolic steroids.

U. S. Attorney Stephanie Finley stated, "This is a very large steroid case. These defendants were illegally importing and distributing anabolic steroids imported from foreign countries to include China and Germany which were intentionally mislabeled. They were well organized, with a geographically diverse clientele and their sole motivation was greed. My office will continue to aggressively pursue and prosecute this type of illegal activity and will continue to send a strong message that this behavior will not be tolerated."

Special Agent in Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations (ICE/HSI) in New Orleans, Raymond R. Parmer, Jr., stated, "ICE focuses not only on keeping illegal products out of the United States but also on identifying and dismantling the criminal organizations behind this activity. ICE/HSI uses its unique customs and immigration authorities to attack and dismantle smuggling organizations whether they smuggle drugs or people across our borders." Parmer oversees a five-state area which includes Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas and Tennessee.

Special Agent in Charge of Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation, James C. Lee stated, "We are pleased with the announcements of these guilty pleas. IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to utilize our forensic accounting skills in a joint investigation to put a stop to money laundering and other types of white collar fraud."

At sentencing, the defendants face up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $500,000.00, and a term of supervised release of not less than two nor more than three years, following confinement, for the conspiracy charge. Berza and Gass also face up to 10 years imprisonment, a fine of up to $250,000.00 or twice the value of the property involved, and a term of supervised release of not more than three years, following confinement, for the money laundering charges.

The case was investigated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations, U. S. Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, and the Louisiana State Police. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney J. Collin Sims.