Arrests were made in the steroids operation in July. | Alejandro Sepulveda

The Guardia Civil yesterday explained more about what has been the biggest operation against the trafficking of anabolic steroids and other substances in Europe. More than four million doses of different products were seized; the previous highest was three million.

The operation was launched in mid-July. There were raids in various parts of Majorca - places as diverse as Andratx, Fornalutx, Muro and Palma (Arenal was the principal focus) - and the main suspects were well-known in the island's bodybuilding and gym scene. Some were in fact elite athletes with national and international titles. Investigations continued following these raids, and the operation is now more or less concluded.

"Operation Vitra" has ended with 41 people having been arrested, 17 of them in Majorca. The actual investigations started early this year, when one particular sports centre in the Balearics was found to be dispensing various substances without any form of control. An individual detained at the time had contacts with a criminal network and he was importing most of the substances from Portugal.

Various cells within this network were identified in different parts of Spain. They were supplied by the main criminal organisation and through international channels. Steroids, hormonal substances and other drugs were coming into Spain from Greece, Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, the USA as well as Portugal.

Members of the organisation used false IDs and had the collaboration of some employees who were working for transportation companies. Payment to overseas suppliers was being made by concealing money in packages. One with printer cartridges that was bound for Greece had 80,000 euros.

In total, 112 different types of substance have been seized as well as 180,000 euros cash, five high-end vehicles, pistols, simulated weapons, tasers and expandable batons.

The uncontrolled consumption of these substances, the Guardia noted, can have serious health implications and cause cancer, thyroid problems, heart disease and stomach ailments.