PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Four Southern New Englanders were arrested Wednesday in connection to a drug ring primarily based in Hong Kong, federal prosecutors said.
United States Attorney Aaron Weisman said the ringleader, David Esser, 46, of North Attleboro, arranged for the importation of large amounts of raw steroids to locations across the country.
Weisman said Esser directed others involved in the drug ring to cook the raw steroids into liquid form, repackage them and ship the finished products to a stash house he operated in North Attleboro.
Once the drugs arrived, Weisman said he and his cohorts, including his wife, Allison Esser, 41, prepared customers’ orders and shipped them through several post offices, including Providence’s main post office where a significant number of packages were mailed.
Both David and Alison Esser were taken into, along with James McLaughlin, 34, of North Attleboro and Mason Nieves, 27, of Providence.
To try and disguise the proceeds from illegal sales of steroids, Weisman said they moved their proceeds from one bank account to the next and used some of the proceeds to purchase raw steroid products, steroid trafficking supplies, vehicles and properties.
All four suspects are charged with:
- Intent to distribute Schedule III and IV controlled substances
- Conspiracy to distribute, possess with intent to distribute and conspiracy to import Schedule III and IV controlled substances
- Manufacturing and distributing Schedule III and IV controlled substances
- Importation of controlled substances into the United States
- Trafficking in counterfeit goods and services
- Smuggling goods into the United States; as well as wire fraud and money laundering.
The Essers, Nieves and McLaughlin were all released on unsecured bond after an initial appearance in U.S. District Court Wednesday.