Trojan bodybuilder charged in international scheme to smuggle drugs that treat effects of steroids

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TROY, Mich. – A Troy The bodybuilder was charged in an international smuggling scheme involving the illegal distribution of drugs used to treat the effects of steroid use, officials said.

Joshua Ford, of Troy, is active in the bodybuilding community, according to authorities. He is one of five people named in an indictment centered on a drug trafficking scheme:

  • Joshua Ford, from Troy, Michigan

  • Brendon Gagne, of Fountain, Colorado

  • James Funaro, from Atlanta, Georgia

  • Jeremy Walenty, from Tampa, Florida

  • Taylor McLaren, of Colorado Springs, Colorado

Officials said the men set up a website – www.ExpressPCT.com – which sold various prescription drugs made outside the United States. Several of these drugs were used to treat the short-term effects of anabolic steroid use, according to court records.

Two other websites have been linked to the program, officials said. One — www.ExpressPEDS.ws — sold various prescription drugs, including Schedule III anabolic steroids. The other – www.PayAnyWayExchange.com – acted as a payment processing site for customers of the other websites.

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The indictment concludes that these five men owe a forfeiture of at least $12 million in proceeds related to this scheme, in addition to a 2012 Maserati Granturismo and a 2014 BMW 428.

How the contraband system worked

Customers of this program could visit www.ExpressPCT.com to place prescription drug orders without a legitimate prescription, authorities said. The products were divided into four categories based on location, including one labeled “American Products”, court records show.

The “US Products” page included several drugs for sale, including Letrozole, Isotretinoin, Arimidex, Exemestane, Cabergoline, Tadalafil Citrate, Clomiphene Citrate, Modafinil, Tamoxifen Citrate, human chorionic gonadotropin and sildenafil citrate.

According to authorities, many of these drugs can specifically address the short-term side effects of anabolic steroids.

The affiliate website, www.ExpressPEDS.ws, sold anabolic androgenic steroids and did not require customers to provide prescriptions, court records show.

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The drugs were shipped in bulk to individual distributors in the United States with false claims about package contents, officials said. In some cases, the drugs were packaged in boxes normally used to ship cosmetics or other non-drug items, according to court documents.

Upon arrival in the United States, the drugs were broken down by individual distributors and sent to redistributors in smaller bulk shipments, officials said.

According to authorities, redistributors would repackage the drugs, apply a United States Postal Service shipping label and send them to customers.

The websites accepted bitcoin, wire transfers and alternative payment methods, including through Zelle and Cash App, officials said. Customers using alternative payment methods did so through www.PayAnyWayExchange.com, according to court records.

The website asked customers not to include specific words, names or information related to the drugs when paying, authorities said.

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Client funds were eventually routed to accounts in Funaro’s name before being converted into cryptocurrency and transferred to accounts held by foreign nationals residing overseas and other unknown locations, documents show. judicial.

Recruitment and expeditions

The five men were charged with conspiracy to smuggle goods into the United States.

“The object of the conspiracy was to import unapproved foreign-made prescription drugs and controlled anabolic steroids into the United States,” the indictment states.

Officials said the www.ExpressPCT.com website was created on September 16, 2018, and www.ExpressPEDS.ws was created on March 31, 2020.

The indictment contained several details about how the people were recruited into the program:

  • In February 2019, Gagne recruited someone in Boulder, Colorado to serve as www.ExpressPCT.com’s prescription drug redistributor.

  • On October 14, 2019, Gagné told someone on Discord that his username was “ariajacobs” on Wickr so that person could place an order for prescription drugs.

  • In December 2019, Gagne recruited someone from Boulder to serve as www.ExpressPCT.com’s prescription drug redistributor.

  • In March 2020, Gagné recruited Walenty to serve as a redistributor of prescription drugs purchased from www.ExpressPCT.com.

  • In November 2019, someone from Miami was recruited to serve as a prescription drug redistributor from www.ExpressPCT.com.

Officials said Walenty spoke with a customer on March 3, 2020 to explain how the website would handle situations where orders were entered by government officials prior to delivery.

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The indictment states that the following mailings were sent from the website in the United States:

  • Between February and December 2019, people outside the United States sent Gagne about 22 bulk packages of prescription drugs.

  • From January to August 2019, they sent Walenty nine bulk packages of prescription drugs.

  • From February to March 2020, three bulk packages of prescription drugs were sent from outside the United States to McLaren.

  • From November 2019 to October 2020, people outside the United States sent the co-conspirator in Miami four bulk packages of prescription drugs.

  • Between February and March 2020, people outside the United States sent Ford four bulk packages of prescription drugs.

Muskegon residents charged

On February 5, 2020, McLaren used his Instagram account to recruit a person from Muskegon, Michigan, to distribute drugs for the program, according to authorities. He told that person his friend was leading the scheme and using the Wickr username “ariajacobs,” according to the indictment.

The Muskegon resident has recruited a second person from Muskegon to help him, officials said. This second person opened a cryptocurrency account with Coinbase to receive payments for their participation, authorities said.

Between Feb. 15, 2020 and Sept. 20, 2020, people outside the United States sent Muskegon residents 12 bulk packages of prescription drugs to buy, according to court records.

On July 22, 2020, an email was sent to Muskegon residents outlining the process for dividing bulk prescription drug shipments into small orders for shipping, along with instructions for printing USPS labels and how to package the drugs, according to the indictment.

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“It is not entirely legal to ship these types of products nationwide,” the email read in part, according to officials.

Between July and October 2020, the same person sent Muskegon residents 34 emails containing the customers’ names, the types of drugs they wanted and the quantity they had ordered, authorities said. The email included links to pre-populated, pre-paid USPS tags for customers, according to court records.

In August 2020, one of the Boulder residents sent Muskegon residents a shipment of prescription drugs, some of which were concealed in beauty product boxes, officials said.

Preparation for redistribution

Between December 2019 and April 2020, Gagne obtained about 580 Priority Mail envelopes from the USPS, officials said.

Between February and September 2020, Walenty obtained about 700 priority mailboxes and 1,900 priority mail envelopes from the USPS, according to authorities.

On October 13, 2020, the Miami man obtained approximately 100 priority mailboxes and 840 priority mail envelopes from the USPS, according to court records.

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Between February and October 2020, Muskegon residents obtained about 40 Priority Mailboxes and 370 Priority Mail envelopes from the USPS, officials said.

Broadcast Details

Between July 24, 2020 and October 11, 2020, Muskegon residents sent approximately 430 prescription drug shipments to other redistributors or customers in the United States, authorities said.

Between Jan. 8, 2020 and Oct. 19, 2020, Walenty sent about 1,800 prescription drug shipments to redistributors or customers, officials said.

On June 5, the Muskegon men sent a USPS priority mailbox of prescription drugs from Muskegon to Walenty in Tampa, court records show.

They sent a similar package of drugs to Gagne in Colorado Springs on June 22, 2020, and another to his girlfriend in Colorado Springs seven days later, officials say.

A box of medicine was sent from Boulder to Walenty from July 13-15, 2020, authorities said.

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A box containing approximately 260 Tadalafil tablets, 10 Armodafinil tablets and 160 Modafinil tablets was sent from Boulder to Walenty in Tampa on November 7, 2020, according to the indictment.

In September 2020, a customer ordered prescription Clomid and Arimidex online and Muskegon residents were tasked with filling the order, officials said. They sent the drugs to the customer via USPS, and payment was sent to a digital wallet provider before being transferred to a bank account owned by Funaro, officials said.

Funaro is accused of having a conversation on December 18, 2020 with a regular customer via Facebook Messenger. He had another conversation with a customer in February 2021 about fulfilling an order and paying, authorities said.

money laundering

Funaro and Gagne were each charged with one count of money laundering conspiracy. Funaro is also charged with one count of money laundering.

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The indictment alleges that the two men were involved in financial transactions and knew that these transactions were designed to conceal and disguise how the money was earned.

Officials said Funaro knew the property involved in the financial transaction “represented the proceeds of some form of illegal activity.”

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