ORI­GIN STAR IN DRUGS DE­NIAL

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - JEREMY PIERCE

HE WAS the lar­rikin football hero who loved a beer and a punt.

But Ma­roons State of Ori­gin great Jason Smith al­legedly led a se­cret life us­ing bet­ting ac­counts to deal in thou­sands of dol­lars worth of co­caine, po­lice doc­u­ments re­veal.

Smith was one of the first big name sport­ing stars caught in the co­caine cri­sis which has rocked Queens­land sport.

The vet­eran of 16 Ori­gins and 15 Tests for Aus­tralia, who played for the Bull­dogs, Eels, Raiders and Cowboys, was charged with drug traf­fick­ing as part of the year- long Crime and Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion in to a multi- mil­lion- dol­lar co­caine car­tel.

Smith, who now runs a Toowoomba pub, and mate Jason Woods, are charged with traf­fick­ing 280g of co­caine.

CCC in­tel­li­gence, gath­ered from phone in­ter­cepts, text mes­sages and covert sur­veil­lance, al­leges Smith en­gaged in reg­u­lar drug deals with ac­cused co­caine king­pin John Touma be­tween June and De­cem­ber last year.

It is al­leged Smith was de­liv­ered drugs by driv­ers be­fore ar­rang­ing to de­posit thou­sands of dol­lars in bet­ting ac­counts be­long­ing to Touma.

Smith was even­tu­ally ar­rested in Jan­uary af­ter po­lice found a set of scales and two spoons al­legedly con­tain­ing resid­ual white pow­der.

Within weeks, code- hop­ping star Karmichael Hunt and some of the Gold Coast Ti­tans’ big­gest stars had also been caught in the net.

Smith yesterday re­fused to talk to News Corp Aus­tralia, but his lawyer Chris Han­nay said the fallen star de­nied traf­fick­ing charges and was strug­gling to cope with the fall­out from the or­deal.

“This has had a cat­a­strophic ef­fect on his fam­ily, his busi­ness and his rep­u­ta­tion,” Mr Han­nay said.

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