Ex-USC athlete arrested on suspected ties to international drug smuggling

A former USC athlete was arrested at a golf course in Carlsbad on suspicion of involvement in an international drug smuggling and money laundering operation.

Owen Hanson, 33, a member of the USC football and volleyball teams more than a decade ago, was arrested on U.S. federal drug charges Wednesday night, according to the FBI. He remains at the federal jail in downtown San Diego pending an appearance in court Friday.

The operation allegedly ran in Mexico, the U.S. and Australia, according to police in New South Wales, Australia.

The Australian authorities will seek to have Hanson extradited to Sydney so he can face charges of money laundering, “perverting” justice, intent to defraud by false statements and involvement with a large commercial supply of drugs.


Four men have been arrested in Australia: a pastry shop owner, a lawyer, a music promoter and a man described by the Sydney Morning Herald as a “crime figure.”

The investigation began when police in Sydney seized a briefcase holding $702,000 at a Hilton Hotel in 2011. The briefcase was allegedly in the possession of a business partner of Hanson’s.

The business partner sued unsuccessfully to get the money back, asserting it was profits from a Lenny Kravitz concert.

Hanson, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, was a partner in a business that sold skin products. The “crime figure” was introduced to Hanson by a Chinese gambler, the newspaper said.


According to the USC athletics website, Hanson majored in public policy, management and planning, and had been a star volleyball player in high school in Redondo Beach and also played basketball and ran cross-country.

A 2003 story in The Times listed Hanson, a tight-end, as among the non-scholarship walk-ons at USC.

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