Ben Merika and his wife Elizabeth Kutcher, of Atlanta, were slapped with a criminal indictment alleging the couple smuggled designer steroids and the stimulant DMAA into the U.S. from China, and that the couple tried to hide their activities by leasing a variety of facilities that were never registered with federal authorities.
The indictment supersedes a 2016 indictment involving Mesika and a former business partner, Wes Houser, who were charged with manufacturing and distributing bodybuilding supplements that were laced with the steroid Methasterone. One of the products was blamed for causing a 28-year-old man to suffer acute liver failure and undergo an organ transplant.
Last April, Houser pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy and agreed to cooperate with the government. He is named in the latest indictment only as an unindicted co-conspirator. Mesika claims he is not guilty of the charges and that the statements Houser made against him were merely “to save himself.”
The latest indictment accuses Mesika and Kuecher as well as other unnamed individuals of smuggling five different designer steroids into the U.S. on three occasions between August 2014 and February 2015, including 30 kilos of DMZ and 100 kilos of DMAA. DMAA is a substance banned for use as a dietary supplement in the U.S. because it has been linked to dozens of serious health problems including heart attacks and strokes.
Anabolic steroids are drugs that require a prescription, but they are sought after by athletes to improve performance and help increase muscle mass. Designer steroids, like Methasterone, are similar compounds often called prohormones. These drugs are banned for use by competitive athletes, but because they have been slightly modified, they do not show up in blood tests. The raw materials that make up these drugs are generally made in China and processed into capsules in the U.S.
Anabolic steroids carry serious side effects including liver disease, kidney disease, cardiovascular events, and mood changes including increased aggression, depression or suicidal tendencies.