The number of anabolic steroid investigations and prosecutions has risen dramatically.

Fifteen years ago, a large proportion of steroid criminal cases involved personal use possession. Many cases arose out of international mail Customs seizures.  While those types of cases do continue, federal law enforcement has generally attempted to shift its focus from users to dealers. Sweeping federal efforts like Operation Gear Grinder and Operation Raw Deal have resulted in the arrest and prosecution of a sizable chunk of the American steroid trafficking network.

Whether the investment of massive federal resources will ultimately translate into a reduction in the size of the U.S. steroid black market is unknown. Successful interdiction on one front may only exert a temporary crunch on the market; with time, the black market may simply adapt and continue, as it has been shown so often to do. Meanwhile, many of those arrested in steroid trafficking cases are gainfully employed, otherwise law-abiding citizens.

The startling truth is that many people being arrested today for anabolic steroids are quite similar in background to your friends and neighbors. They are sometimes former or current steroid users themselves who are also selling the hormones to others. In some cases, though, they are merely users of the drugs -- otherwise law-abiding mature adults who are using steroids for personal cosmetic improvement. I've been contacted, consulted or retained by literally hundreds of these individuals, many of whom are caught when their steroids are intercepted in the mail by U.S. Customs or Postal Inspectors. Overwhelmingly, they're neither teenagers nor competitive athletes -- the two populations the Anabolic Steroid Control Act of 1990 (later expanded in 2004) was intended to target. Nevertheless, American law enforcement authorities are pursuing these folks with enhanced vigor. I have seen a person arrested for selling just one vial of steroids to a former training partner turned police informer, and another for possessing just 15 stanozolol tablets and a near-empty bottle of testosterone. All too often, personal users are erroneously charged as dealers.