A Williston, North Dakota man named Norman Staley was found dead in his home late last year, and it has now been revealed that the immediate cause of death was heart failure brought about by an enlarged heart, primarily caused by the use of anabolic steroids.
Three days after Stanley’s death in November 2017, a mysterious package arrived at the home of his mother, Barbara Fisher.
It was forwarded from Stanley’s Grand Junction home. The package was labeled “sunscreen” and had been sourced from Ukraine to Stanley’s address.
Upon examining the content of the package, Fisher found 200 pills which looked like ecstasy. She immediately alerted law enforcement.
Upon investigation, police were able to find that Stanley had a medical condition that made his doctor prescribe him testosterone, which he was taking twice a week.
In a bid to save money, he decided to forego the pharmacy and use the dark web as a source of his steroids. Little did he know that this decision would cost him his life.
The pills were tested and were found not to be an illegal substance. However, a police spokesperson said that the pills would be sent to Colorado Bureau of Investigation if any criminal investigation will be involved.
Anabolic steroids, the drugs Stanley had been using around the time of his death, are synthetic variations of testosterone that can be prescribed to treat hormonal issues and certain diseases which cause muscle loss, like delayed puberty and cancer respectively.
Like most drugs, anabolic steroids can be abused. Bodybuilders and athletes use them to enhance their physical appearance and improve their performance.
Abusers of the drug can take it in ways that limit the side effects while maximizing the benefits.
According to a report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, such ways include cycling; which means using the drug while having pause periods in between its usage, pyramiding; which involves increasing its intake gradually, reaching optimum amounts the steadily getting off it and lastly stacking; which is combining a number of steroids.
Unlike other drugs, anabolic steroids do not have the same short-term effects; they don’t cause the “high” that often leads to the use of other drugs.
However, long-term usage can have significant effects on the brain chemicals and pathways that cause that high. The outcome may be mood and behavioral changes.
Short-term effects are mental health problems such as paranoia and impaired judgment. Long-term effects are different for men and women, but the general ones are liver damage, kidney problems or failure, increased blood cholesterol, high blood pressure and an enlarged heart, which is what’s attributed to the November 2017 death of Norman Stanley.
Whenever a person dies, those who are closest to him or she feels the effects of the loss most, especially the immediate family.
Barbara Fisher was no exception. Her sorrow was apparent. The death of her son hurt her deeply and opened up her eyes to things she was not aware of.
She said that were it not for her son’s death, she would never have known about the dark web. Like most people her age, she is ignorant of what goes on in the dark web yet she is and can be further affected by it.
Fisher added that today’s young individuals are technologically savvy and have learned to access banned substances such as drugs remotely.
The world has taken significant strides technologically and young minds are able to keep up. However, it has come with its own challenges, such as more young drug dealers on the dark web and increased cybercrime.
In a final statement, Fisher said she would not want any other family to face what she was going through, and pledged to aid in the fight against drug abuse, even if it means getting one drug of the street/market to save a life.
Law Enforcement Reaction
Megan Terlecky, the spokesperson for Mesa County Sheriff’s Department, said that getting over-the-counter or prescription drugs from unknown sources is dangerous as one cannot be sure of what he or she is getting.
The dark web has developed such deep roots in the drug trade that trusted dark web vendors and customers echo the same sentiment.
For instance, a man from Townsville, Australia who was recently arrested for buying drugs on the dark web, informed the court that he only chose to make the purchase online in order to avoid being duped into buying fake drugs from sketchy dealers.
The man, named Bruno Talora, was a drug dealer, and when drug dealers are cautious of buying drugs from questionable vendors, it shows how much other populations should also be careful of purchasing drugs on the dark web.
Illegal activities on the dark web have been on the rise since its inception.
Law enforcement faces a constant challenge of drug trafficking on the dark web.
It is quite hard to locate buyers and sellers when their identities are anonymous, leaving officers to depend on sometimes unreliable sources of information.
This is why the Department of Justice has recently formed a task force to counter such activity. Though they were not able to prevent the death of Stanley, it is a positive thing that the agency is trying to find ways to counter such crime.