After a law enforcement raid uncovered gold, silver, cash and marijuana, a former University of Southern California football player was arrested at a San Diego County golf course, accused in an Australian money laundering and drug trafficking scheme, according to the FBI.
Owen Hanson Jr., 33, was one of five people netted in a joint investigation that spanned the Pacific Ocean.
He has pleaded not guilty to drug and money laundering charges in San Diego federal court, and the New South Wales (NSW) Police Force plans to extradite him to Sydney on additional charges .
Australian authorities worked with the FBI’s San Diego Field Office to arrest Hanson at a Carlsbad golf course. They also seized the precious metals and drugs when they executed a number of search warrants in Southern California.
Hanson is the ex-business partner of Sean Carolan, a former Sydney-based cage fighter, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The investigation into the alleged drug ring began in August 2011 when Australian police found Carolan at a hotel with a black suitcase in tow. In the bag, officials found $702,000, according to NSW Police.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that high-profile music promoter Andrew McManus told authorities the money was his and came from the proceeds of a Lenny Kravitz tour. He said the cash was going to repay Hanson, who had fronted him the deposit needed for a ZZ Top tour.
A legal challenge seeking the money’s return was denied by the Supreme Court, allowing the NSW Police investigation to continue.
Late last year, detectives served search warrants to several locations in the Sydney suburbs. In those raids, they seized more than $68,000 in cash, drugs, steroids, documents and electronic equipment.
Investigators say the information led them to believe 300 kilograms of cocaine from Mexico was smuggled into Australia through the United States.
At that point, NSW Police reached out to San Diego FBI agents to help investigate the suspected drug trafficking and money laundering.
The joint operation culminated Thursday with the arrests of Hanson, McManus and three other men in Australia, including a government attorney. More cash, steroids and marijuana were seized after the suspects were taken into custody, officials say.