12 September 2010

Police arrest Goodna and Ipswich Rugby League players on drug charges

A rugby league coach, trainer and players are among those charged with
drug offences in southeast Queensland.

Former Australian schoolboys and NRL player Anthony "Chook" Fowler,
currently coach of the Goodna and District Rugby League Football Club,
Goodna trainer Anthony Kerslake and Goodna player Matthew Smith are
among those facing charges as a result of Operation Ice Nightfall
which targeted amphetamine and cocaine trafficking.

One player at each of the Ipswich Rugby League's Norths and Brothers
clubs were also arrested and charged.

Goodna club president Gary Parker confirmed that Fowler, Kerslake and
Smith had been stood down.

"The whole three have been stood down from their commitments at the
club - they haven't been suspended or anything - pending what comes
out of their trials," Mr Parker said.

Goodna are due to meet Brothers on Sunday for the right to play Swifts
in the local league grand final.

Queensland Rugby League board member and chairman of the league in
southeast Queensland, Peter Betros, confirmed the charges and standing
down of the accused men.

"It's a society problem," Mr Betros said.

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

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

Mr Betros told AAP the league was "totally shocked" by the charges.

The clubs had acted to stand the players down and had not been
instructed to do so by the QRL, he said.

Queensland police said Operation Ice Nightfall began in April and
focused on an alleged network of drug traffickers operating out of
southeast Queensland.

Thirty search warrants were acted on in Brisbane's southern suburbs,
Ipswich, Gold Coast/Tweed Heads and Maroochydore areas.

Five people were charged in Brisbane's south, 11 on the Gold Coast and
12 in the Ipswich area.

Detective Superintendent John Pointing of the State Drug Investigation
Unit said the closure of the operation was the result of a commitment
to disrupt distribution networks.

"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."

Further arrests are expected, police said.

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