SAN DIEGO – Born into privilege, educated in good schools and an alumnus of the University of Southern louis vuitton outlet stores in california football brotherhood, Owen Hanson was set up for success. Perhaps a future boardroom CEO or a real estate magnate.
But Hanson chose to use his talents and resources to become a different kind of boss: a crime boss.
For years, Hanson ran a global drug-trafficking operation, importing, exporting and distributing cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and ecstasy.
He leveraged his college football ties to gain access to an insiders circle of professional athletes, selling them performance-enhancing drugs and, in one case, turning a three-time Super Bowl champion into a drug dealer. He generated millions of dollars in profits through his offshore gambling ring, dispatching a violent group of thugs to collect from indebted bettors.
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He was enamored with his gangster persona. A silver-plated louis vuitton outlet AK-47 hung as a showpiece from the wall of his Redondo Beach party house. One of his handles used to send encrypted messages to his associates: “mr.doncorelone,” a reference to “The Godfather” of film and literary fame.
On Friday Hanson added another milestone to his crime boss resume: a prison sentence.
“It’s hard to understand, Mr. Hanson, how you ended up here,” U.S. District Judge William Hayes said.
Hanson, 35, was sentenced to 21 years and three months in prison – a term even longer than what prosecutors had recommended.
“By anyone’s definition, Mr. Hanson was at the top, and he was at the top a very, very long time,” Hayes said.
Hanson pleaded guilty in January to a racketeering conspiracy and conspiracy to distribute drugs. All but one of the 21 people charged in the case have pleaded guilty to various charges.
In a letter to the judge and in comments at sentencing, Hanson expressed remorse at his “childlike choices, driven like wildfire, by drug use and the desire to be a ‘Big Shot.’” He said he has gained incredible insight through the power of self-realization and treatment while in custody and is a changed man.
But the judge also noted there were allegations of behavior in jail that conflicted with some of those claims – an issue that was apparently discussed at length in closed meetings at the start of the hearing Friday and put into question if the sentencing would proceed.
Hanson’s attorney, Mark Adams, downplayed Hanson’s position. “He was not a drug kingpin in the true sense of that term,” Adams said, instead depicting a reckless, out of control man surrounded by wealth and able to use his “winning personality” to succeed.
Hanson has agreed to forfeit $5 million, and properties in Mexico, Costa Rica and Peru, luxury cars such as a Porsche and Range Rovers, $100,000 in gold and silver coins, plus art, jewelry and high-tech vaults.
The riches are an indication of how successful he was, and his position in the underworld was only rising, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Young.
Growing up in Redondo Beach, Hanson was a volleyball standout who was a walk-on tight end on the 2004 USC football team. He turned his charisma, charm and entrepreneurial touch to drugs, selling retail quantities to friends and teammates in college, Young said.
After college, he earned money in real estate development, but that took a hard hit when the economy crashed in 2007. His father’s fishing buddy ran a sports book on the side and decided it didn’t sit well with his other job: a schoolteacher. The father suggested that Hanson take it over to earn extra cash, according to a letter written by the father.
He did. The gambling operation, betodog.com, was based in Central and South America. At one point it was a subsidiary of a much larger gambling network, Macho Sports, but the FBI in San Diego took down that operation. Hanson saw it as an opening to expand his business.
He was ruthless at collecting debts. In one instance, he hired an enforcer – Jack “Animal” Rissell – to travel to Minnesota and give a customer a beating in the hallway outside his home while the man’s young son was inside. The enforcer recorded the violent message. After watching it, Hanson responded that it looked more like a “soap opera” than the “smackdown” he’d paid for.
He got help tracking down his clients from a Los Angeles private detective, who also created louis vuitton outlet real or fake background check documents that presented Hanson favorably and looked up personal background information on law enforcement officers circling around the criminal enterprise, prosecutors said.
Odog generated more than $10 million in revenue in four years, prosecutors said.
And that wasn’t Hanson’s more profitable business. That was the drugs.
“He sold every drug in every amount,” Young said in his sentencing papers.
Much of the drug-trafficking arm remains unknown and is still in operation, authorities said. The drugs were smuggled into the U.S. with food products, and he used an established trucking business out of Los Angeles to push drugs deep into the U.S., from coast to coast. Drugs also went in and out of Canada, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, Australia and Italy, Hanson has claimed.
He obtained wholesale drugs from at least two sources, including one apparently in Mexico, authorities said.
He found Australia – where his aunt and uncle lived – to be especially profitable. A kilogram of cocaine in Southern louis vuitton outlet stores in california might go for $25,000, while in Australia it is worth $200,000, Young said.
“Your guys move that stuff in kangaroo?” read one of Hanson’s encrypted messages. “It’s like gold over there! My guys would have it gone within 30 mins.”
Hanson catered to another clientele, supplying “numerous” college and professional athletes with steroids and human growth hormones, according to evidence obtained in a wiretap investigation. The athletes have not been identified, but court documents describe a professional football player as asking Hanson for a “new shipment” of drugs and gave the address to an NFL training facility in Tennessee.
Like the gamblers he turned into bookies, he sometimes turned drug addicts into drug dealers, prosecutors said.
Derek Loville, a three-time Super Bowl winner with the physical and mental problems – and pill addiction – that sometimes go with such a distinction, was sentenced to 15 months in prison for his part in distributing Hanson’s drugs to friends and associates in the Phoenix area.