Update 3 p.m.: Federal agents have charged Richard Rodriguez and eight others in Miami and Phoenix with running a massive illegal steroid operation. Rodriguez and his cohorts would buy illegal steroids from China, repackage them in Phoenix, and sell them through Rodriguez's Miami-based website, prosecutors say. "The defendants made millions of dollars through the illicit online sales of anabolic steroids," U.S. Attorney Robert L. Capers says.
On Instagram, Richard Rodriguez comes across as a high-living gym fanatic, posing with top bodybuilding athletes and posting photos of luxury sports cars and his extreme adventures, such as skydiving and firing high-powered weapons. As owner of the popular Iron Addicts gym just north of downtown Miami, he had recently become a well-known figure in local fitness circles.
But this morning, Rodriguez was led out of his gym in handcuffs after federal officers raided the facility at NE 17th Street and North Miami Avenue. A source tells New Times that Rodriguez was charged with selling steroids.
A DEA spokesperson hasn't responded to a call from New Times about the raid, and Rodriguez's cell phone isn't accepting messages this afternoon. No one answered the phone at Iron Addicts.
Federal agents raided the gym early this morning as neighbors and passersby captured the crackdown, including South Florida Business Journal reporter Nina Lincoff:
WSVN reporter Brian Entin was on hand as Rodriguez was led away in cuffs, and later tweeted that a McLaren and a Porsche were seized from the gym owner's home:
No charges have been filed yet, but a source close to the gym tells New Times that Rodriguez was affiliated with the website Wellness Fitness & Nutrition Network. The site was allegedly run in part out of a space above the gym, though New Times could find no online links between Rodriguez and the site. The company lists a business address on 71st Street in Miami Beach. A woman who answered the phone there confirmed Rodriguez is connected to the website and promised to pass along a message to him; she said the site was still up and running and she had not spoken to any federal agents.
The site, which is still online, advertises federally controlled steroids such as Deca Durabolin for sale:
In his Instagram bio, Rodriguez describes himself as CEO and founder of Iron Addicts, and includes a pill emoji with the phrase "Hormone Club" and a syringe emoji with the phrase "Keep It Sharp."
Along with numerous notable bodybuilders, some minor Miami celebs also hung out at the gym, including local rapper Stitches:
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Update: Prosecutors in New York have accused Rodriguez of running a massive international steroid ring through . They say that Rodriguez had claimed his Wellness Fitness & Nutrition Network website was FDA-approved, but in fact he sold illegal drugs to anyone who logged into the site. Prosecutors say they bought more than $30,000 worth of drugs through the site, and traced its operation to a repackaging facility in Phoenix and a logistics center in Miami.
Along with Rodriguez, they also charged South Florida residents John Ferrell, 36; Nancy Melo-Rodriguez, 39; Erick Vittitow, 29; Bader Alaskari, 34; Bernard Duran, 43; and Jonathan Gonzalez, 37; and three men who allegedly worked on the Phoenix end of the scheme, Edward Jacob Liff, Xzavier Apodaca and Byron Oliver.
Correction: An earlier version of this story included an Instagram post that may have given the incorrect impression that bodybuilder Jay Cutler was somehow involved in this story. This is false. Neither Cutler nor his company, Cutler Nutrition, were in any way related to the steroid scandal or arrests.