Juicers, Trippers, and Crocodiles: The Dangerous World of Underground Chemistry
Nobody dreams of growing up and landing a low-paying job in New Jersey making chemicals used in shampoos and hair gels. And on those long, tedious days back in 1991 when a 24-year-old lab technician named Patrick Arnold stood alone in a room stirring thickening agents into smelly vats of goo, there was plenty of time to reflect on the twists of fate that had condemned him to work in a place where “nothing interesting ever happened,” in a job that was “just going nowhere.”
It took months to find the way out, but the path was there in front of him all along. Arnold was an avid weight lifter, cursed with an average build that had long ago stopped cooperating with his efforts to get bigger. Even so, every night after work he would head to one of several gyms where he pumped iron and talked shop with other muscleheads. The conversation would often turn to anabolic steroids. Arnold had majored in chemistry at the University of New Haven, and those weight-room discussions got him thinking.
One afternoon after starting the day’s reactions at work, Arnold marched down the hall to the chemistry library on his floor and looked up the molecular structures of the steroids mentioned in his muscle magazines. Anabolic steroids, which are essentially synthetic testosterone, had only just been declared controlled substances, so there was still an awful lot of information available about them.