On February 5, U.S. Postal Inspectors customs agents were doing a routine inspection at the North Texas Processing and Distribution Center when they spotted a package freshly arrived from Singapore and destined for a home address in Crowley.
The customs agents opened the mail -- they have the authority to do this for all USPS mail shipped in from other countries -- and found several hundred tablets of anabolic steroids, 10 vials of testosterone, and another 50 vials of HCG. They alerted law enforcement officials in Johnson County and learned that the owner of the home to which the steroids were being sent, Geoffrey Engles, was believed to be a part of a steroid distribution ring.
The Johnson County officials had begun the investigation nine months before after receiving a similar call from customs agents in San Francisco who had flagged a package from China, which turned out to be packed with testosterone enanthate, addressed to a woman in Burleson.
The woman didn't actually live at the Burleson address; her father did. It didn't take much detective work long to trace her to the Mansfield home she shared with her boyfriend, Wayne Barfield. When a Johnson County investigator arrived on May 20 to ask her about the package, she told him everything.
Barfield, the woman said, had been selling steroids for a while. He would order the raw steroids from overseas distributors, typically paying via Western Union, then use a Bunsen burner to mix the final product. This he would split with Engles, and they would distribute it to pushers throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Further pointing to Barfield's involvement in the steroids game were a string of credit card purchases from Chinese companies with names like Gen X Chemicals, Simply Shred, and DNA Peptides and from Research Lab Supply, which sells the types of capsules and vials that might be used for packaging steroids.
Barfield's girlfriend said she had helped out "because she had not thought about the seriousness of the offense," according to a federal criminal complaint filed against Barfield and Engles last month.
BALCO this operation was not. Barfield apparently had no science or medical training but was an oilfield worker. And the scale of the operation was relatively small. The most recent shipment Barfield's girlfriend could recall was for $7,000, and their customers seem not to be professional athletes but gym rats hoping to bulk up.
But the operation was enough for federal agents to go to the trouble of getting a warrant to search Engle's home, where they found a large quantities of anabolic steroids, plus vials, glass beakers and syringes.
When the agents interviewed him, Engles more or less threw Barfield, whom he had known for four years, under the bus. Engles said he knew his friend had been importing, mixing, and selling steroids, and that he had even helped finance a couple of purchases, but that he had never otherwise been a part of the operation. The steroids in his house had been given to him by Barfield after his girlfriend had spilled her guts to investigators. Engles "didn't want to see any of it get thrown away" because he "planned to use it."
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Engles then got Barfield on the phone and let federal agents listen while he asked if his roommate could get a cut of the next shipment. Barfield agreed, and told Engles to have the money deposited directly into his bank account to avoid Money Gram's service fees.
Two days later, the agents had a talk with said roommate, Jason Morris, who confessed to selling steroids but said that Engles and Barfield were "at a whole different level."
"They are getting raw materials direct from China and making their own stuff," he told them. "This is way above anything I'm involved in. Geoff has done this for a long time and has made a lot of money doing it."
Still, Morris, Engles, and Barfield were were hit with the same charge of possession with intent to distribute a controlled substance. So was a fourth man, Paul Clayton McComb.