KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 — US President Barack Obama has designated a worldwide steroids trafficking operation that is partly managed in Malaysia under Washington DC’s Kingpin Statute, which targets large-scale drug traffickers including the notorious Tijuana cartel in Mexico, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported.
The move comes in the wake of Liberty Reserve, a global currency exchanger registered in Costa Rica that was indicted last week for running a US$6 billion (RM18.6 billion) money-laundering operation said to be the world’s largest, and which also involved unlicensed money exchangers based in Malaysia as Bukit Aman has acknowledged.
The WSJ reported Obama had imposed sanctions against six individuals and groups, including an alleged anabolic steroid dealer, Mihael Karner of Slovenia, who reputedly runs a an umbrella company advertising sales of steroids in Malaysia called Asia Pharma — raising concerns about whether Malaysian regulations are so lax that they are being exploited by international criminal organisations.
Also in the same list were Afghan Haji Kotwal Noorzai, the head of a drug trafficking network and the owner of a heroin processing lab, now living in Pakistan who has worked with the Taliban; and Mexican kingpin Luis Fernando Sanchez Arrelano, who has been the reputed operational leader of the Tijuana Cartel tied to a number of kidnappings and murders in the Tijuana area, the WSJ reported.
According to the international business news and current affairs daily, Karner heads an international organisation that sells anabolic steroids on the Internet and has created shell companies to hide the origin of the profits.
An anabolic steroid is known as a performance-booster and consumed for cosmetic purposes but which can severely damage a person’s health in the long run.
Citing a US Treasury official, the WSJ reported Karner to be managing an umbrella company advertising sales of steroids in Malaysia called Asia Pharma.
A check on Google showed Asia Pharma to be a limited liability pharmaceuticals company in Kuala Lumpur with a local phone and fax number but providing no mailing address.
On its home page, the company said its main goal was the manufacture and sale of affordable yet high quality generic pharmaceutical products to developing countries that cannot afford the expensive proprietary drugs. Most of its 56-listed products dealt with male and female hormone treatment.
It claimed the mission of “Asia Pharma Ltd is to improve the efficiency of healthcare systems worldwide by providing them more drugs of the same quality for the same money.”
The WSJ reported Karner, his wife and brother were charged in a Massachusetts federal court in 2010 on three counts of money-laundering conspiracy, and importing and distributing steroids.
Karner was reported to have since fled back to his native Slovenia from where he is continuing his operations despite the US authorities’ actions, the daily cited an unnamed US Treasury official saying.
In calling for sanctions, Obama was reported to have invoked the Kingpin Statute, properly called the Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE) Statute, a US federal law aimed to dismantle criminal narcotics enterprises that function like legitimate businesses.