NRL talent arrested on way to training in drug bust

A young ex-NRL player has been arrested on his way to training over his alleged connection to a major drug ring whose accused kingpin was sitting on millions of dollars in assets.

Diminutive former Tigers and Bulldogs half Brandon Wakeham was one of three men charged following busts on Wednesday in which police said they seized more than a kilogram of MDMA.

The 25-year-old, who has been playing for Manly Sea Eagles feeder club Blacktown, was arrested on his way to training near Brookvale Oval and taken to Manly police station.

He is facing multiple charges, including supplying more than a large, commercial quantity of prohibited drugs and participating in a criminal group.

Brandon Wakeham.
Brandon Wakeham has been arrested and charged with drug trafficking.

Wakeham was granted bail at Manly Local Court on Thursday, but he was ordered to surrender his passport and is banned from visiting international airports.

His lawyer indicated outside court that his client would fight the charges.

NSW Police detective acting superintendent Richard Puffett said Wakeham played an "active role" in the drug ring, noting that there were several family connections between the three accused.

"We've been investigating for eight months and it's been a laborious, thorough and very tenacious investigation," he said.

"We believe this is causing a major disruption in this area of illicit drug supply and in relation to these organised criminal group networks that are a scourge."

NRL chief executive Andrew Abdo confirmed the matter fell under the league's authority despite Wakeham only holding a contract with a NSW Cup side.

"He has a contract that's registered with us, so it'll be under our jurisdiction and once we know a little bit more around the facts, we'll be able to make a determination of what the action would be,” he said.

The Sea Eagles confirmed Wakeham’s arrest and said the club would fully co-operate with an NRL integrity unit investigation.

Police arresting a man
The arrests on Wednesday came after a 'tenacious' eight-month investigation by NSW Police.

Police allege Sam Amine, 47, was the mastermind of the operation, hitting him with 10 charges including seven commercial drug-supply offences as well as an allegation of knowingly directing the activities of a criminal group.

Some $10 million in assets allegedly linked to him were frozen as part of the joint NSW Police and Australian Federal Police operation.

He did not apply for bail when he fronted Sutherland Local Court.

The third man arrested, Nabil Allouche, 24, made an unsuccessful bail application at Bankstown Local Court.

He is facing 12 charges, which include five commercial drug-trafficking offences.

The MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy, was found in a search of his car, where 56g of cocaine and about $50,000 in cash were also discovered, police said.

Wakeham, a Fijian national representative, played 25 games with Canterbury between 2019 and 2022 before making 15 appearances for Wests Tigers in the 2023 season.

He was set to captain Blacktown in their NSW Cup match against Canterbury on Sunday after playing 10 games for the team in the current seas.

As of Thursday afternoon, Wakeham was still listed in Manly's reserves list for the team's NRL clash with Brisbane on Friday night.

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