Former USC Football Player Pleads Guilty in Gambling, Drug Trafficking Case

Owen Hanson, a former member of the USC Trojans’ national championship football team, has pleaded guilty to running an international criminal operation that included offshore gambling and selling drugs.

Hanson, 34, now faces a minimum of 20 years in prison when he’s sentenced for charges of racketeering conspiracy and drug-trafficking conspiracy. He’s agreed to forfeit $5 million and all property that was bought with illegal profits.

Although Hanson has already entered his plea deal, the San Diego Union Tribune reports that he may withdraw it, claiming that he’s the victim of a justice system “bait and switch.”

“The new plea they made me sign in court yesterday will not stand, they added a mandatory minimum I never agreed to—and was pressured to sign it without reviewing with my family,” Hanson wrote. “It was a travesty of justice, protocol and trust.”

Arrested at Carlsbad’s Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club in September 2015 on charges of coordinating delivery of cocaine and methamphetamines, Hanson was soon discovered as the ringleader in a much bigger operation. Police arrested 22 people in connection with the gambling and drug ring.

Growing up in Redondo Beach, California, Hanson played high school football and eventually walked onto the USC football team as a tight end. He was a member of the 2004 USC team that won the national title.

Upon graduating from USC, Hanson became a real estate developer. But he later decided to get into illegal markets too.

Hanson’s guilty plea admits that he oversaw ODOG Enterprises, an offshore gambling operation housed in Peru and Central America.

With many clients located in the U.S., Hanson hired bookies, runners and enforcers to create lines, collect losses, and use violence against anybody who wouldn’t pay their losses.

In one instance, he sent Jack “Animal” Rissell to Minnesota to assault a gambler who owed debts to ODOG Enterprises.

Hanson also built a drug-trafficking network that imported, exported, and distributed drugs at wholesale and retail prices throughout the U.S. and Australia. Additionally, he used relationships with athletes to distribute performance-enhancing drugs, such as steroids and human growth hormone.

Prosecutors allege that he trafficked over a ton of cocaine (approx. $37m). The prosecution also pointed out Hanson’s numerous connections to Mexico, including a home in Cabo San Lucas, fake Mexican ID, and Mexican in-laws who had ties to drug dealers.

Some of the crimes Hanson admitted to include shipping 5 grams of cocaine to an unnamed football player in Nashville, Tenn., and shipping over 250 kilograms of cocaine from L.A. to various U.S. locations.

Some of Hanson’s transactions were worth six and seven figures, showing the amount of money that his criminal enterprise was dealing with.

Police questioned Hanson about $702,000 they found in his suitcase in a Sydney hotel room. He used various excuses about how the money was being used to pay for a ZZ Top tour and invest in a weight-loss business. 8 people, not including Hanson, were arrested in connection with the bust.

Other prominent names who’ve been busted in connection with Hanson’s empire include former NFL player Derek Loville (dealing drugs), Old Town accountant Luke Fairfield (money laundering), and Giovanni “Tank” Brandolino (Hanson’s second-in-command).