MIAMI (WSVN) - Several employees of a popular Miami gym were arrested in a drug bust, early Wednesday morning, following accusations that they were involved in a multi-million dollar, international steroid ring.
According to investigators, Iron Addicts Gym owner Richard Rodriguez was arrested after being accused of selling, distributing and operating a steroid ring worth over $1 million out of his own gym, located at 31 N.E. 17th St. Investigators said the gym used a wellness website to push the illegal product.
Officials said out of the millions involved, at least $350,000 was wired to China to buy steroid powder.
Around the gym, professional bodybuilder C.T. Fletcher’s photo can be seen on the logo and walls. Fletcher responded to the situation in a video and said he is not involved in any illegal activity and only let the gym use his name. “Do I regret making that decision? I sure do,” said Fletcher in the YouTube video. “I don’t want my name associated with anything like that.”
As Iron Addicts Gym was being raided by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and U.S. Marshals, Rodriguez was found at Miami International Airport, ready to board a flight headed to Los Angeles.
Rodriguez’s wife and eight other people were arrested at around the same time. Their identities have yet to be released.
Rodriguez was then transported to his ocean-front, Miami Beach condo where he was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals. Shortly after, Rodriguez’s luxury cars, a McLaren and a white Porsche, were seen being towed away from his condo.
The suspects’ defense attorney, Jordan Lewis, told 7News the accusations are baseless. “We are noticing that these are baseless allegations. That our clients were running a legitimate facility that was geared towards wellness and helping people in the community.”
Rodriguez’s defense attorney Jared Dokovna said he is determined to help his client win in court. “We will prevail,” he said. “I hope that the gym should be re-opened quite soon.”
Unsuspecting gym-goers who were turned away from the gym, which remains closed as of Thursday morning, as investigators and U.S. Marshals raided the building were left in awe.
Jerome Turner, a gym member, said the gym is well-known in the community. “You see it on YouTube, man,” he said. “It’s a popular gym. A lot of people in the community came here to work out.”
Iron Addicts Gym was shut down by the DEA, since agents will be investigating the gym for several days. A sign on the entrance read, “United States Marshal NO Trespassing.”
“Everybody was cool,” said Turner. “The people at the front desk were cool, the owner was cool. I never had an issue with it.”
U.S. Marshals said they will also seize all of the gym equipment. “It’s a bummer,” said Mati Altel, who is looking for another gym. “I just moved over here from South Beach, and this one was the best. But, right now, I need to find a different one.”
Officials have not announced formal charges for Rodriguez nor the other employees. In addition, officials said, the investigation may involve connections in other states.
The U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, New York will be taking over the investigation, while Rodriguez will be expected in court on Friday.
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