Drug raids indicate league link

A NUMBER of Sunshine Coast properties were targeted in a police blitz which saw five rugby league players and officials from South-East Queensland clubs charged with drug offences.

In a major crackdown, named Operation Ice Nightfall, police executed 30 search warrants in Brisbane, Ipswich, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast, targeting amphetamine and cocaine trafficking.

The connection to rugby league has rung alarm bells on the Coast but it is so far the only region to escape without any charges laid.

However, police have warned the investigation is continuing and more arrests are expected.

Charges have already been laid against the Goodna and District Rugby League Football Club coach, Anthony ‘Chook' Fowler, trainer Anthony Kerslake and player Matthew Smith.

Two players from Ipswich Norths and Brothers clubs were also charged and arrested but police have not indicated the blitz specifically targeted rugby league players.

President of Sunshine Coast Rugby League, Ashley Robinson, said he was not aware of the raids and had no knowledge of any players being involved in the drug trade.

“I have not heard one thing about it,” he said.

“Of course Sunshine Coast Rugby League would support the police in any enquiries.

“We would be 100% behind the authorities. We hope we're not involved though.”

Queensland Rugby League board member and chairman of the league in South-East Queensland, Peter Betros, confirmed the five league officials and players had been charged but said people should not focus purely on the football aspect of the police blitz.

The league was “totally shocked” by the charges.

“It's a society problem,” Mr Betros said.

“We don't believe it involves rugby league in this case.”

He said rugby league had the best drug testing regime of any code and was determined to rub drugs out of the game.

Detective Superintendent John Pointing of the State Drug Investigation Unit said the inquiry had been a success and was a result of commitment.

“This has been a significant operation,” he said.

“It has been a targeted operation focusing on the supply and distribution of dangerous drugs by organised syndicates into major metropolitan areas.”

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