The case started in 2004 when Gilbert A. imported “herb mixes” from Spain and distributed these through middle men among cattle traders. The mixes contained dexamethasone, a potent synthetic member of the glucocorticoid class of steroid drugs.
It acts as an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant. Its potency is about 20-30 times that of the naturally occurring hormone hydrocortisone and 4-5 times of prednisone.
Gilbert A. and his brother Rober were in prison for a while in 2005.
“In 2004 we were tipped that A. again was selling hormonal products. All beef farmers know his reputation”, said the prosecutor of the Belgium court.
At the cattle market in Brugge samples of the product were taken from A’s car and in laboratories in Nantes, France and Dublin, Ireland the hormones were found.
The investigation showed that there appeared to be an international trade line from Spain, through France to Belgium and the Netherlands.
Danger to health
The prosecutor emphasised the danger for human health. “It should have been clear to the buyers that things were not right. The product did not have the required labelling and animals increased up to 2.5 kg in weight per day where one to 1.5 kg is normal.”
Gilbert A. is believed to have gained almost €200,000 with his trade. This amount will be reclaimed from him.