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Sugar high! How US chocolate exporter smuggled cocaine to Australia


steven36
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It appeared to be a sweet, easy way to import large loads of cocaine from southern California to the highly-profitable and unquenchable market of Australia.

 

 

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Owen Hanson, the good-looking former University of Southern California athlete turned cocaine kingpin and leader of violent criminal enterprise ODOG, teamed up with Los Angeles-based fine chocolate importer/exporters Nathan and Andrew Dulley.

Hanson and his California-based henchmen would drop off large batches of cocaine - usually in quantities of tens of kilograms or more - and the Dulley brothers would intermix and package the drugs with legitimate chocolate merchandise to disguise it from the shipper and Australian and US customs authorities.

The Dulleys would use their established import/export routes, and when the shipments landed in Australia ODOG members would distribute the drugs.

Just like Hanson, sentenced in a San Diego court last year to more than 21 years in prison, the Dulleys, Nathan, 36, and Andrew, 34, now face long jail stints in America's federal prison system.

The brothers entered guilty pleas to international drug trafficking charges in San Diego on Thursday to become the latest affiliates of the ODOG drug, money laundering and illegal gambling syndicate to fall following a highly-successful joint covert operation by NSW Police, the NSW Crime Commission, FBI and US Drug Enforcement Administration.

So far 22 other defendants charged in connection with the case have pleaded guilty in US courts.

"Transnational racketeering organisations represent a clear and present danger to the safety and security of our communities," US Attorney for the southern district of California Adam Braverman said.

"Those who assist such criminal enterprises by allowing the corruption of their otherwise legitimate businesses will be held accountable for the harm wrought on our communities."

The gangster lifestyle that Hanson, a muscle-bound playboy and former member of the champion USC gridiron team, had enjoyed collapsed when New South Wales police, the FBI and other authorities swooped on him at a golf course near San Diego in 2015.

The 36-year-old was attracted to the huge profits he could make by trafficking cocaine to eager buyers in Australia.

He boasted how he could sell a kilogram of cocaine in Australia for US$175,000 (NZ$262,885) compared to US$20,000 in Los Angeles.

His downfall began in 2011 with the discovery in a Sydney hotel room of a suitcase containing A$702,000 (NZ$760,305) cash.

Authorities followed a trail that eventually led them to Hanson and ODOG.

At Hanson's sentencing last year prosecutor Andrew Young described how Hanson fashioned himself as a mob boss.

He used the handle "Don Corleone" on his encrypted Blackberry and insisted a restaurant he was a partner in had a "Wise Guy Room" adorned with mob photos.

Professional gambler Robert Cipriani told the court how Hanson embarked on a terror campaign against him and his actress girlfriend Greice Santo in an attempt to recoup money Hanson demanded.

Hanson had red paint splattered on Cipriani's mother's grave and sent DVDs to the couple showing actual beheadings of people with a chainsaw and knife.

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