The leader of a violent international gambling, drug-dealing and money-laundering ring and three of his lieutenants pleaded guilty in San Diego Tuesday to conspiring to operate an illegal enterprise in violation of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization statute.
In a plea agreement, Owen Hanson, 34, a former USC football player, admitted to trafficking in hundreds of kilograms of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, anabolic steroids and human-growth hormone while heading ODOG Enterprise from 2012 to 2016.[contextly_sidebar id=”slKPjBgEZgs9H9lf5yrFiyPqRaNN1Zod”]The operation’s drug business routinely distributed controlled substances — including performance-enhancing drugs peddled to numerous professional athletes — at wholesale and retail levels, according to prosecutors.
ODOG Enterprise also operated a vast illegal gambling operation focused on high-stakes wagers placed on sporting events, court papers state. The ring used threats and violence against its gambling and drug customers to force compliance.
Also pleading guilty in the case Tuesday were co-defendants Giovanni “Tank” Brandolino, 42, Marlyn Villarreal, 32, and Jeff Bellandi, 50.
In one instance outlined in court papers, a person who owed ODOG Enterprise more than $2 million received a DVD showing a beheading and a photo of a family member’s desecrated gravestone in an effort to collect the alleged debt.
Brandolino, the second-highest ranking member of the illicit operation, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate RICO and conspiracy to commit money laundering, admitting that he assisted Hanson with the importation and distribution of hundreds of kilograms of cocaine and heroin.
Brandolino further admitted to establishing a drug distribution network in New Jersey and New York. Villarreal and Bellandi also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.
So far, 16 of 22 defendants charged in the case have pleaded guilty, including Daniel Portley-Hanks, 70, Jack Rissell, 50, and Kenny Hilinski, 39.
Portley-Hanks, a Los Angeles private investigator who assisted Hanson with tracking down delinquent gamblers and others who owed the enterprise money, pleaded guilty to extortion on Dec. 27. Rissell, labeled as an “enforcer” in the indictment, pleaded guilty to the same charge on Dec. 17.
Hilinski, who pleaded guilty to RICO conspiracy on May 24, operated much of the gambling apparatus from Peru, where he maintained various gambling websites, coordinate the collection of payments from bookies and gamblers and directed the organization’s runners to distribute the proceeds to Hanson through shell companies and cash deliveries. Portley-Hanks, Rissell, and Hilinski are awaiting sentencing.
The remaining defendants are set for trial on Feb. 14.
Additionally, eight people in Australia have been arrested in connection with Hanson’s global organization, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in San Diego.
–City News Service
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