Everyday Average Couple Accused Of Running Massive Drug Ring

By McCarton Ackerman 04/16/14

Part of a husband and wife team, Sarah Hannan controlled the finances of an extensive drug operation while on paid maternity leave.

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Sarah and Ben Hannan. Photo via Courier Mail

A young mother from Australia has been accused of using her paid maternity leave to help her husband run a multi-million dollar drug empire. Sarah Hannan, 27, allegedly controlled the finances of the marijuana business that she ran with her husband Ben, which was so successful that they bought a $1.1 million mansion on the Gold Coast to house their underground cannabis plantations.

Police claimed that while Ben handled the growing of hydroponic crops in hidden bunkers, Sarah funneled $1 million into 17 accounts over two years, using advice from a local accounting firm that assumed they were running a legitimate business. In addition to the waterfront mansion, they used the money from their drug dealing to buy investment properties worth $2.2 million and several luxury cars.

Transcripts from wiretapped phone conversations indicated that Sarah spoke with Ben’s brother, Scott, about needing to wait for drug cash to arrive so that she could pay a $5,000 bill. The phone taps also revealed the Hannan brothers arguing over the use of pesticides on marijuana crops and Scott’s plans to get a roommate. “It doesn’t bother me as long as the guy never, ever, ever gets a whiff of what you do for work,” said Ben. “It’s way too close.”

Unfortunately for Sarah, she became the first woman to be charged under Australia’s new Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment Act, which would give her an extra 15 years in prison if convicted on charges of drug trafficking and supply. Ben faces an additional 25 years in jail under the new act as the alleged leader of a criminal organization. All of their assets and properties have also been frozen as alleged criminal proceeds.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.